Newly acquired Sale signs 2-year deal with Braves

January 4th, 2024

ATLANTA -- 's tenure with the Braves will be longer than anticipated.

Further indicating they believe the veteran left-hander is healthy, the Braves have given Sale a two-year, $38 million deal that includes an $18 million club option for the 2026 season. This extension comes just a few days after the Red Sox shipped Sale and $17 million to Atlanta in exchange for infielder Vaughn Grissom.

Sale will make $16 million this upcoming season and $22 million in 2025.  Because of the money provided by the Red Sox, the Braves could view Sale as essentially having no cost this year.

This deal erases the deferred payments included in Sale’s previous contract. More importantly, it proves the Braves are confident Sale has distanced himself from injury woes that have significantly limited him over the past four seasons.

Injuries ended the dominance Sale displayed while finishing within the top six in balloting for the American League Cy Young Award seven straight seasons (2012-18). The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020 and battled both a rib fracture and right wrist fracture during the '22 campaign. He totaled just 11 starts from 2020-22.

Sale’s injury woes continued last season as he spent time on the shelf with a stress reaction to his left scapula. He ended up posting a 4.30 ERA over 20 starts. He had a 3.92 ERA in the nine starts he made after returning from the IL in August.

“We feel like this is the first normal offseason [Sale] will have had in a long time,” Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said after the trade. “But at the same time, he’s still coming off just a hundred innings pitched last year, so we’ll be mindful of that. We don’t put limits on any of our starters, but we do take it day by day if guys need to skip a bullpen or need extra days between starts.”

Though Sale’s workload will be closely monitored, the Braves plan on having Sale in their rotation at the start of the season. In other words, they don’t believe they need to delay his debut a month or two in an attempt to maximize what he might be able to provide during the playoffs.

The Braves’ projected rotation consists of Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, Sale and Bryce Elder. But while talking to reporters on Saturday, Anthopoulos said Elder will battle Reynaldo López, AJ Smith-Shawver and others for the fifth spot during Spring Training.

With Morton nearing retirement and Fried eligible for free agency at the end of this season, securing Sale for at least one additional year could lessen the club’s rotation needs next winter.