The Red Sox announced a series of roster moves today, some of which were previously reported, though some were new developments. Outfielder Adam Duvall has been reinstated from the 60-day injured list while left-hander Joe Jacques has had his contract selected. To open two active roster spots, lefty Matt Dermody has been designated for assignment while infielder Enmanuel Valdéz was optioned to Triple-A. To open one more 40-man roster spot, lefty Chris Sale has been transferred to the 60-day injured list. The Sox informed reporters, including Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, that Sale has a stress reaction in his shoulder blade. He won’t require surgery but he will be shut down for three to four weeks before being reevaluated.
Sale, 34, was once one of the most dominant pitchers in the league but he has been severely held back by injuries in recent years. He averaged over 200 innings per season from 2012 to 2017 but was held to roughly 150 per year in the two following seasons. He made trips to the injured list in 2018 due to shoulder inflammation then dealt with elbow inflammation the following year. He ultimately required Tommy John surgery in March of 2020, causing him to miss that entire season.
He returned late in 2021 and was able to make nine starts that year. It was hoped he would be set for a return to full-time work in 2022 but he dealt with a stress reaction in his ribs that kept him out until July. He was hit by a comebacker in his second start, fracturing a finger. While on the injured list again, he broke his wrist in a bicycle accident that ended his season.
Here in 2023, it was again hoped that he could perhaps return to a regular starting role. That was the case for a while, as he made 11 starts with a 4.58 ERA, but he landed on the injured list again on June 2 due to shoulder inflammation. He’ll now be ineligible to return until August, though even that seems contingent on a bit of luck in the health department. The aforementioned shutdown period will keep him out of action for most of the rest of June. Even if he’s healthy after that, he’ll need most of July to build back up and go on a rehab assignment.
In the short term, the Red Sox will be figuring out how to proceed without Sale. They have recently been running out a group with veteran James Paxton alongside younger pitchers like Brayan Bello, Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford, while struggles from Corey Kluber and Nick Pivetta got both of those guys pushed into the bullpen.
In the long-term, the Sox will have to wonder what they can expect from Sale going forward. He is playing this year on a salary of $27.5MM and will make that same figure next year as part of the extension he and the club signed going into 2019. There’s also a $20MM club option for 2025 with no buyout. Due to his carousel of injuries, he’s pitched just over 100 innings since the end of the 2019 campaign.