March 6, 2013
Setting Sail with Sale
It’s an all-Chicago edition of the Roundup, beginning on the South Side…
Chris Sale, White Sox have discussed extension
The 23-year-old Sale showcased electric stuff throughout the season, delivering signature efforts in a May 28 duel with Matt Moore (career-high 15 strikeouts) and an August 22 silencing of the Yankees, in which he fanned 13 batters and surrendered only a Derek Jeter home run. All told, he amassed a 3.05 ERA and a 3.22 FIP, numbers that become even more impressive when you consider that he made 14 of his 29 starts in one of the league’s most hitter-friendly parks.
Now, according to CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes, Sale is hoping to capitalize on his stellar rotation debut with a contract extension. Hayes spoke directly with the lefty, who told him that there has been some “back and forth” between his agent, B.B. Abbott, and general manager Rick Hahn, but that there is “nothing too crazy right now.” Sale is entering his third full year in the majors, putting him on track to become eligible for arbitration next winter and making this a logical time for Hahn to put the wheels in motion to avoid a hearing in 11 months. On the other hand, though, the organization might want to see Sale endure another 30-plus-start campaign before investing in him for the long haul.
The White Sox babied Sale a bit in 2012, giving him a 12-day rest period around the All-Star break, but Ventura put plenty of weight on the left shoulder of his de facto ace down the stretch. Sale threw 113 and 118 pitches in back-to-back starts in September, and he eclipsed the century mark in eight of his last 11 outings. He showed some signs of fatigue toward the end of the season, most notably an increased walk rate, but those were to be expected in his first campaign as a starter and are not necessarily indicative of long-term durability concerns.
Despite the modest limitations on his workload, Sale was the seventh-most-valuable starter in the majors by PVORP (33.5) and the 10th-best by WARP (3.6). In fact, the only pitchers who compiled more value than Sale while logging fewer innings were Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. Not surprisingly, PECOTA was impressed: It projects Sale for a small uptick, to 3.8 WARP, over 182 2/3 innings, which—for the sake of comparison—is the same amount of value that it expects from Cole Hamels over 217 frames. If Sale could maintain that level of performance for 200 innings, he would likely be in line for Cy Young award consideration, alongside Felix Hernandez, David Price, and Justin Verlander.