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March 11, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Extending to Business

by R.J. Anderson

IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Agreed to a five-year extension with LHP Chris Sale worth $32.5 million with two club options and escalators that could push the deal's total value over $60 million. [3/7]

This much we know: Sale's stuff is good enough to dominate big-league hitters regardless of his role. His fastball sits in the 93-94 range and his slider is a legitimate weapon. Alas there is more to talk about when $30 million is on the line. Will Sale stay healthy? Can he remain healthy enough to assume a role in the bullpen if all else fails? No one can be quite sure, not even the White Sox. So until something happens, or nothing happens (like Sale's short-lived move to the bullpen last season), Sale's mechanics and future prospects of good health will continue to serve as grounds for debate.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Agreed to a five-year extension with 1B-R Allen Craig worth $31 million with a club option worth an additional $13 million. [3/8]

Craig turns 29 in July. Before the extension the Cardinals would have controlled him through 2016, his age-32 season. Now they have him through 2017 and potentially 2018, his age-34 season, should they choose to exercise their option. Why rush to lock Craig up for two non-prime years? Perhaps because Craig is on his way to becoming one of the best hitters in the National League. He hits for average and power and maintains good on-base percentages along the way. There are some drawbacks to his game: he isn't much of a defender or runner, though he does show some smart speed at times. In order to guarantee Craig $31 million the Cardinals must feel strongly about the bat and the person. They must feel strongly about their potential to save some money by avoiding the arbitration process, too.

One storyline borne from Craig's deal worth watching is what the Cardinals do with Matt Adams. Adams, the top first base prospect in the system, is a big eater in terms of stature and offensive potential. He's not going to be able to change positions—neither is Craig for that matter—and even if he could the Cardinals' outfield is full with Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and some day soon Oscar Taveras. Look for Adams to serve as trade bait for when St. Louis decides to upgrade elsewhere. 

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Chris Sale,  Allen Craig

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