The Red Sox announced this morning that they’ve formally exercised their 2018 club options over ace Chris Sale and closer Craig Kimbrel. Sale will earn $12.5MM in 2018, while Kimbrel will be paid $13MM.
Additionally, the Sox announced that they’ve outrighted left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. and infielder Josh Rutledge, each of who has elected free agency. Boston has also selected the contracts of outfielder Bryce Brentz and left-hander Williams Jerez from Triple-A Pawtucket.
The option decisions on Sale and Kimbrel were among the easiest in all of baseball. The pair finished out the season as two of the most valuable players on the Red Sox and two of the best in all of baseball in their respective roles. Sale led the American League with 214 1/3 innings and a remarkable 308 strikeouts (12.9 K/9), pitching to a stellar 2.90 earned run average along the way. Kimbrel, meanwhile, posted a 1.43 ERA with 35 saves in 69 innings and struck out a staggering 49.6 percent of the batters he faced (16.4 K/9). Sale’s contract includes a $13MM option for the 2019 season as well, while Kimbrel will be a free agent for the first time next winter.
Ross, 28, was limited to just 15 innings between the Majors and Triple-A this season due to a back injury that ultimately required surgical repair. Prior to that, however, he was a quality setup man in Boston, pitching to a 3.57 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 49.4 percent ground-ball rate in 116 innings in 2015-16. Lefties hit just .200/.302/.297 against Ross in that time, while righties hit him at a .260/.333/.388 clip. Ross would’ve been eligible for arbitration this offseason after earning $1.825MM in 2017. He’s expected to be healthy for Spring Training and could make for an affordable and experienced option for a team seeking left-handed bullpen help.
Rutledge, also 28, logged 118 plate appearances in 2017 — his third year with Boston. He’s seen very limited action with the Sox dating back to 2015, though, hitting just .252/.319/.313 in 259 plate appearances across those three seasons. The versatile Rutledge can handle second base, third base and shortstop, and he even saw 13 innings at first base for the Sox in 2017. He’ll likely land a minor league pact somewhere this offseason and compete for a bench role in Spring Training.