Braves Squad Extends Pitcher Chris Sale. Will It Be Their Demise?

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The Atlanta Braves decided to re-sign newly acquired left-handed starting pitcher Chris Sale with a two-year $38 million extension, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported.

The extension follows the Braves’ acquisition of the 34-year-old Sale, who they received from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for 22-year-old Vaughn Grissom.

As a Mets fan who hates the Braves, I couldn’t be happier about this. Grissom had a down year last season but he exploded onto the scene for Atlanta in 2022. Baseball Reference projects him to regain his 2022 form next season, predicting a .764 On Base plus Slugging percentage, far outpacing the .659 mark he set this year.

Sale, meanwhile, is coming off his first season posting 20 starts since 2019. The oft-injured lefty was an absolute stud when healthy during his Chicago White Sox tenure, making seven straight All-Star teams from 2012-2018, per Baseball Reference.

But a torn UCL in 2019 forced him to miss the entire 2020 season. Rib and pinky injuries led to him only pitching in 11 games across the 2021 and 2022 seasons. And when the southpaw finally made his way back to the mound last season, he put up pedestrian numbers, pitching to a 4.30 earned run average in only 102.2 innings pitched.

Now, the Braves did get $17 million in cash from Boston in the deal, which, according to Passan, will cover Sale’s contract for this season.

But Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ decision to give Sale even more money is somewhat of a head-scratcher. (RELATED: Atlanta Braves Give Up On Michael Soroka After Injuries Derail His Career)

I must, begrudgingly, admit that Anthopoulos has been an incredible GM for the Bravos. He’s signed young studs like Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Michael Harris and many others to relatively cheap long-term deals while building the rare franchise that’s insanely good now without mortgaging the future.

That’s why this move is so puzzling. All of the aforementioned guys are well below the age of 30. None of them required giving up major talent to acquire. And then this guy turns around and deals an extremely young, versatile, cheap and controllable middle infielder to take a flier on a 34-year-old reclamation project? Something doesn’t smell right here. Has me wondering if Vaughn Grissom’s family has some age-old blood feud with the Anthopoulos clan or something.