White Sox, Chris Sale agree to long-term contract
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org March 7, 2013 12:00PM
Updated: March 7, 2013 9:33PM
MESA, Ariz. — The White Sox and Chris Sale have agreed to a five-year, $32.5 million contract extension, which includes club options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Under terms of the contract, Sale, who turns 24 on March 30, will receive $850,000 in 2013, $3.5 million in 2014, $6.0 million in 2015, $9.15 million in 2016 and $12 million in 2017, the team announced. The White Sox hold options for 2018 at $12.5 million and for 2019 at $13.5 million. If either option is declined, Sale will receive a $1.0-million buyout.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn was asked Thursday about the risk involved in locking in a pitcher to a long-term deal.
“Certainly a pitcher regardless of their mechanics there is a risk involved,’’ Hahn said. “There is concern for potential breakdown, but we are confident in Chris’ durability and are very optimistic about his future. What this came down to was bearing one of two risks: The risk of going year to year which would lead to potential downside of him walking out the door in four years or the risk of a mulit-year deal which leads to the downside risk of potential injury and us being out a few bucks along the way. But what we feel is the more important reward of keeping him here longterm.’’
Earlier today, Sale talked about the negotiations.
“My main focus is what we’ve got going on here,’’ Sale said Thursday morning. “Any of that kind of stuff, I’m not paying attention to it right now. I’ve got one goal and that’s playing baseball and doing everything I can to prepare myself for the season. That’s what I do day in and day out and all that other stuff will figure itself out.’’
Sale did let it out Tuesday that talks were in fact happening between his agents and the Sox, who have him under contract for $600,000 this season. Sale isn’t eligible for salary arbitration till after the season, so the Sox are under no obligation to work out an extension. But it would make sense for them to delay his going on the open market as a free agent.
Team captain Paul Konerko said it makes sense “if you have a guy who is talented at what he does and the biggest component is that you just know by the person he is, he’s going to come in and work hard and he wants it.
“Those two things exist [in Sale’s case], and it’s only a good deal for the team,’’ Konerko said. “There’s always a risk of injury. That goes at any level.
“You could not tie up the young guy and wait to sign a six- or seven-year free agent and spend a lot of money on him and the risk of injury is the exact same. So, as long as those two are there where a guy is good, talented at what he does, and is just a gamer, wants to be good and will show up, it makes sense to do it. That guy is going to do well. If he’s going to do well, you might as well lock him in and don’t let it get just out of control.’’
Sale has been diligent about his craft and conditioning, and is evolving into a team leader at the ripe age of 23. He is also regarded as the best pitcher on the team and one of the best left-handers in baseball.
“It’s always that something’s that’s on your mind too is the appreciation factor they’ve shown and I hope they feel for me as well,’’ Sale said.
“Just try not to look far deep into it but also don’t take it for granted. Do the things I need to do and it’ll work itself out.’’