The Braves didn’t just trade for seven-time All-Star Chris Sale; they signed him to a two-year extension just a few days later. For a pitcher who has made just 31 starts over the last three seasons, that feels like quite the risk. However, it’s evident the Braves medical staff isn’t too concerned with his prior injury history, and in his first media appearance since the trade, Chris Sale said something that should have Braves fans feeling confident about his health as well.
New #Braves LHP Chris Sale talked to the media today. He said this is his first normal and healthy offseason in quite a while. He's been throwing bullpens since November, something he said he hasn't been able to do for years. pic.twitter.com/v26Rn8KXBI
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) January 4, 2024
Chris Sale is already visiting the Spring Training facility in North Port. He is a full go heading into the 2024 campaign after finishing 2023 on a high note.
Over Sale’s last 14 starts with the Red Sox, he posted a 3.31 ERA, limiting opponents to a .203 batting average and striking out 90 batters over just 73.1 innings with just 19 walks. Sale’s strikeout rate of 29.4% last year put him in the 88th percentile of all major league pitchers. He also had a 33.6% chase rate, good for the 92nd percentile among major leaguers.
Sale is fully healthy for the first time in years, and outside of the Tommy John surgery that cost him nearly all of 2021 and 2022, he’s not a pitcher that has spent much time on the shelf. From 2012-2019, he made at least 25 starts in every season and threw over 200 innings in four of them.
That’s the sign of a true workhouse, but the Braves don’t even need him to be that in the latter years of his career. This team is built to win 100+ games with their eyes closed during the regular season. The goal is to be as healthy as possible once October arrives. Adding Sale to this talented team will not only help him stay healthy, but it will allow the Braves to use the utmost caution with their entire pitching staff as well.
Sale now also has a pretty good veteran to lean on when it comes to keeping his body healthy and ready to roll for 162 games while on the wrong side of 30.
"I gotta talk to Charlie about that fountain of youth he's sipping."
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) January 4, 2024
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire