While many may have thought business in baseball could slow down a bit during the holiday season, the busy offseason for the Braves continued on Saturday.
And this time, it was a noteworthy move to give their starting rotation some needed depth.
BREAKING: The Atlanta Braves are acquiring seven-time All-Star Chris Sale in a trade with the Boston Red Sox, sources tell ESPN. Well-regarded infield prospect Vaughn Grissom is the return to Boston, which will send money with Sale, who waived his no-trade clause to join Atlanta— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 30, 2023
The biggest box for the Braves to check off all offseason has been a significant addition to their starting rotation. And while Sale is not currently at the level he once was or at the level of some other names the Braves were rumored to be targeting, as Jeff Passan notes, he is coming off his best season since 2019. Sale was 6-5 with a 4.30 ERA/3.80 FIP last year for Boston, but produced eleven strikeouts per nine innings and 2.1 fWAR across 102 2⁄3 innings.
Of course, while last year could be considered a bounce back year for Sale and one that suggests he still possesses above average stuff, he also comes with plenty of risk. As mentioned above, he is not the true ace he once was. Natural decline with age is one reason, but multiple significant injuries that limited Sale to just 48 1⁄3 innings between 2020-2022 also make him a potential injury risk moving forward. This is a big reason why the Braves are receiving a significant amount of cash from the Red Sox to help cover Sale’s $27.5M salary for 2024:
The deal: Chris Sale and $17 million to Atlanta for Vaughn Grissom, who has the full 6 years of team control remaining.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) December 30, 2023
In exchange for Sale and the big amount of cash, the Braves are sending infielder Vaughn Grissom to the Red Sox. Ever since Orlando Arcia won the starting shortstop job for the Braves right before the 2023 season, there has been plenty of logical speculation that Grissom may be more of a trade chip than future contributor in Atlanta. And with the need for another significant arm in the rotation, Grissom was an expendable asset for the Braves to part with. Though Grissom did not have a clear path to the majors with the Braves, his bat still made him plenty valuable as an asset with six years of control. This is another reason why the Braves were able to get a huge amount of money from the Red Sox, who likely will have a place for Grissom to immediately contribute at the major league level.
With the trade now official, it will be interesting to see what remaining moves the Braves make for the rest of this offseason. But acquiring Sale certainly has the potential to make the rotation stronger in 2024 (and perhaps beyond.) And again, though he may not be who he once was, if Sale is healthy, the Braves clearly feel he can still offer above average production. And as a veteran who has plenty of good and quality experience in the regular season and playoffs, Sale could prove to be quite the acquisition for Atlanta in time.