The Boston Red Sox have traded left-handed pitcher Chris Sale to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for 22-year-old second baseman Vaughn Grissom.
Background on Chris Sale and His Injury History
Sale, who will turn 34 in March, is a seven-time MLB All-Star who has struggled with injuries in recent seasons. He originally joined the Red Sox in 2017 after being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Chicago White Sox, where he spent the first seven seasons of his career.
In his first two seasons with Boston, Sale dominated, posting a 2.56 ERA over 59 starts and helping the club win the 2018 World Series. However, he began battling left elbow inflammation in 2019, which wound up requiring Tommy John surgery in 2020.
After missing all of 2020 and most of 2021 recovering, Sale returned late last season but made just 11 total starts the past three years. He battled multiple injuries in 2022, including a right rib stress fracture.
The Red Sox were hoping a now-healthy Sale could bolster their rotation alongside newcomers Corey Kluber and James Paxton in 2023. However, with one year and $55 million remaining on his contract, they instead decided to move him for a controllable young player.
Vaughn Grissom’s Potential Fit With the Red Sox
In trading Sale, Boston brought back Vaughn Grissom, Atlanta’s #10 ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Grissom exploded onto the scene late last season, batting .291 with five homers in 36 games after being called up in August.
The Red Sox envisions the athletic middle infielder fitting into the roster in 2024 at either second base or shortstop. Current SS Xander Bogaerts can opt out of his contract after 2023, potentially creating an opening Grissom could fill. If Bogaerts stays, Grissom would likely slide to second base.
Implications for the Braves
This trade gives the defending NL East champion Braves an intriguing new weapon at the top of their rotation. Sale joins Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Charlie Morton to give Atlanta arguably the most formidable starting pitching foursome in the National League.
|2023 Projected Rotation
|14-7, 2.48 ERA
|11-5, 2.67 ERA
|9-6, 4.34 ERA
|DNP – Injured
With the Los Angeles Dodgers still looking like World Series favorites, this move signals the Braves are loading up to unseat the NL West juggernauts. They lost long-time franchise cornerstone Freddie Freeman last offseason but still reached the NLDS in 2022 – and now appear poised to contend again.
Reaction from Red Sox Manager Alex Cora
Red Sox manager Alex Cora called the trade “tough news” but expressed optimism about what Grissom brings to the organization:
“It’s tough news. We wanted Chris to stay healthy and lead our rotation…Vaughn is an impactful player who brings energy and talent to our roster. We have a lot of great talent coming through the system, and he makes us better.”
Cora seems confident about the future despite dealing the team’s ostensible ace pitcher. Boston remains in a competitive AL East featuring the big-spending Yankees and Blue Jays, so they will need prospects like Grissom to hit their potential to keep pace going forward.
What Happens Next?
Medical Evaluations – Both players must pass team physicals before the trade can become official. This is particularly notable for Sale coming off another injury-marred season. Any health issues could require re-working compensation or even nixing the deal.
Filling Rotation Spot – Boston now has a glaring hole at the top of their rotation. They could look to add a starter like Michael Wacha to help cover Sale’s production, or give prospects Brayan Bello, Brandon Walter, and Chris Murphy extended looks in 2023. Signing elite closer Kenley Jansen is also a possibility.
Future of Bogaerts – Bogaerts can opt-out after 2023, which could significantly alter Boston’s long-term infield outlook. They now have flexibility with Grissom but need to convince Bogaerts to stay or find replacements at SS and 2B next winter.
This shocking winter swap sends a struggling former ace to a contender for an unproven but talented young player. Both teams are betting on reclamation projects, making it a fascinating risk for two franchises with October aspirations.
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