Even though it feels like years ago at this point, the Red Sox announced Chris Sale would undergo an MRI for elbow soreness three weeks ago. Coming on the heels of the Mookie Betts blockbuster trade, it was simply the latest tidbit of bad news for Red Sox fans. While the importance of all that has paled as the news of the real world grew worse and worse, the announcement that Sale would undergo Tommy John surgery today is just piling it on.
How it impacts this season for Boston doesn't matter as much as the long run. Yes, the Red Sox will obviously be worse without their ace, but no one knows what the season will even look like at this point in time. So to project just how many wins this might cost them or how it alters their playoff chances is a fool's errand. But it does not bode well, to say the least, for the organization's financial commitment to Sale over the next five years.
After the Red Sox traded basically their entire farm system for Sale -- and won a World Series in 2018 as a result -- the team signed Sale to a five-year, $145 million deal that would kick in after the 2019 season. Well, 2020 was supposed to be the first year of the pact, and it's over before it even started.
Boston will now be on the hook to pay Sale $29 million annually for the next four years following his surgery. He could bounce back in some regard after Tommy John, but to expect him to be a Cy Young candidate after such a procedure is setting the bar unreasonably high. He can be a good pitcher, but not one worth $29 million.
Overall, it's not that big of a deal. That contract was a reward for bringing a championship to Boston, and just about everyone would agree it was worth the payoff, even if he doesn't suit up in a Red Sox uniform again. Especially considering you'll have a hard time finding anyone in Boston right now who would feel bad that John Henry owes Sale all that money and may not be getting the return he expected on his investment. It's just disappointing, and yet another sign that this organization is going very much in the wrong direction as we soldier on through a new decade.