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Sox officially sign Sale to 5-year extension

@IanMBrowne
March 23, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When the Red Sox made a blockbuster trade with the White Sox for Chris Sale in December 2016, the only guarantee was that they'd have the powerful lefty for three seasons. The marriage between the ace pitcher and the defending World Series champions will extend far

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When the Red Sox made a blockbuster trade with the White Sox for Chris Sale in December 2016, the only guarantee was that they'd have the powerful lefty for three seasons. The marriage between the ace pitcher and the defending World Series champions will extend far beyond that.

The Red Sox officially signed Sale on Saturday to a five-year, $145 million contract extension. Sale will earn his $15 million club option this season, and the new deal will start in ’20 and run through the ’24 season.

A source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the deal includes an opt-out clause after the 2022 season, and some of the money is deferred.

The contract contains a vesting option for 2025 -- which would be worth at least $20 million -- based on number of starts. Sale will also receive a full no-trade clause during the ‘20 season once he hits 10 years of MLB service time.

Sale will earn $30 million per year from 2020-22, and $27.5 million in ’23 and ’24.

The 2021-24 seasons have escalators based on Cy Young Award finishes.

Sale was supposed to pitch on Friday night against the Twins. Instead, he underwent a physical and will start Saturday.

With his contract extension, Sale joins the many superstars who have already signed lucrative extensions this offseason. This week alone, Mike Trout (Angels), Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals) and Blake Snell (Rays) have agreed to long-term deals with their clubs, with Trout's 12-year, $426.5 million extension the largest contract in baseball history. The Astros’ Justin Verlander is also expected to ink a two-year extension soon.

The Red Sox are thrilled to know their ace isn’t going anywhere.

“We saw it last year,” manager Alex Cora said. “He started Opening Day and he started every [Game 1 in the postseason] after that. He’s our Opening Day starter [again in 2019]. Everyone knows how good he is and what he brings to the table, not only on the field but off the field. He’s one of the best.”

All spring, the Red Sox and Sale both expressed optimism an extension could be reached. His teammates were pleased to see the optimism turn into reality.

“It makes people want to come here,” lefty David Price said of Sale nearing an extension. "The better we can make ourselves for as long as we can, the more attractive it is to come play in Boston.”

Price is under contract for four more years, and so, too, is hard-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi. Though Rick Porcello is eligible for free agency following this season, the Red Sox have the foundation of a rotation in place that should be strong for years to come.

“It makes us better; that’s all I care about,” said Price. “It’s definitely something unique we have.”

Getting Sale locked up long term was vital for a team that has several other big contract decisions looming in the coming years. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts will be eligible for free agency at the end of this season.

Superstar Mookie Betts can be a free agent after the 2020 season, and he indicated earlier this week that he expected to reach free agency. Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is also eligible for free agency after ’20.

Star slugger J.D. Martinez has opt-outs in his contract after both this season and next.

The extension for Sale means that arguably the three biggest headliners of the potential 2019-20 free-agent class are off the market -- Sale, Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, who signed an eight-year, $260 million deal to stay with the Rockies earlier this offseason. And with Verlander’s likely extension, the biggest free agents next winter would now include Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon and Astros star pitcher Gerrit Cole.

Sale has dominated for the Red Sox since they traded for him. He has a 2.56 ERA across 59 starts in his two seasons in Boston, with 545 strikeouts in 372 1/3 innings.

Sale has been an American League All-Star for the last seven seasons and he's finished in the top five of AL Cy Young Award voting for the last six seasons. He helped lead the Red Sox to a World Series championship last year, including closing out the Fall Classic with a strikeout of the Dodgers' Manny Machado.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.