Following up: Chris Sale ready for World Series start

(Keith Allison / Flickr)

Despite the best efforts of the Milwaukee Brewers, the teams with two of the three highest payrolls will meet in the World Series.

The Red Sox will start Chris Sale against the Dodgers in Game 1, as Sale has fully recovered from his stomach ailment.

Sale doesn’t have a social media presence, and he continues to take advantage of that fact by occasionally indulging in serious BS when he won’t really hear about it.

The AP’s version is remarkably straightlaced:

First, though, the ace left-hander had some fun with reporters when asked about the ailment, saying it was caused by irritation from a belly-button ring.

Although Sale remained deadpan during the comment, he has not been observed with a pierced navel.

It doesn’t quite rate as high on the sketchometer as “jumping off a truck,” but regardless: Should Sale help his team get to the World Series and fare well on the game’s biggest stage, Boston will have achieved its objective in the trade. Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech and Luis Basabe still have work to do.

* * *  * * *  * * *

A couple of quick follow-ups …

No. 1: Matt Davidson is spending serious time this winning working on his pitching.

That’s according to Bruce Levine, who relays that Davidson is seriously pursuing the idea of becoming a two-way player.

“I know I can help the team in this area,” Davidson said of pitching. “It’s not an ego thing. I am a position player and hitter. If I can help the team pitching and be an asset for the organization, that would be great.”

Back in July, Patrick outlined all the ways Davidson’s flexibility could be useful. Back in August, I recapped Davidson’s second outing, when he worked over Giancarlo Stanton, but also looked gassed before getting to 20 pitches. That underscored the caution the White Sox needed to exercise, and fortunately, nobody got carried away.

A full offseason of conditioning and a plan in spring training is the only way to go about it without risking injury or embarrassment. I’m looking forward to following this story when February rolls around.

* * *  * * *  * * *

No. 2: Nate Jones won’t be making the minimum.

Scott Merkin talked to Nate Jones, who hopes to stay in Chicago with a rebound from another injury-ravaged season. The White Sox hold a $4.65 million option for 2019 (with a $1.25 million buyout), and that will indeed be Jones’ salary figures.

Cot’s Baseball Contracts led us astray by saying Jones’ 2019 option could be knocked down to the league minimum if he needed elbow surgery by the end of the 2018 season. It turns out that ulnar repositioning surgery does not count, so the White Sox will indeed have a more difficult decision to make.

The White Sox should have room for him on the payroll, but it’s probably better to think of him as somebody who could get outs at a decent rate, rather than potential trade bait. He’ll be 33 next season, which is a larger number than his average innings total over the last five seasons (27).

Still, with Zack Burdi stuck at 93-95, Ian Hamilton needing to show a little more and Ryan Burr needing to show a lot, a healthy Jones can at least keep one of these guys on a more developmentally-friendly role. An unhealthy Jones is more or less normal these days.

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karkovice squad

The problem for Jones is that even with the Sox current payroll, the $3m+ can go towards someone who doesn’t also require a 40-man spot before the Rule 5 draft, whether that’s a more interesting bullpen project or someone else. Whether they found someone to underwrite an insurance policy for him probably also comes into play.

Buying out Jones’ contract and trying to bring him back for less is probably the best option, though. There’s an acceptable risk of losing him rather than someone who’s more likely to make a long-term impact. And if they want to retain him, the Sox are in a better position compared to an average signing because knowledge of player health gives an added advantage to current/former teams.

MrStealYoBase

Agree with everything here. Just want to add that it is very likely they can buy him out and bring him back at league minimum since it’s hard to see another team take a risk on a guy who’s spent as much time on the DL as Jones has. Not like there’s going to be a bidding war.

zerobs

The Cubs last year signed a closer who averaged 30 innings a year over the last 3 seasons. Lots of teams do dumb things, even good teams. I don’t think the minimum will get him re-signed.

As Cirensica

I was gonna make a comment about Nate Jones but then I read this ^…There’s really little to be added.

GrinnellSteve

To this point Sale hasn’t helped them much getting to the Series. They would have won the division with Covey in that spot. They probably would have beaten the Yankees in the first round. He pitched poorly in the second round. If the Red Sox win the Series without a meaningful contribution from Sale, then Moncada and Co. still have some wiggle room in evening out that trade as far as each team getting exactly what they needed.

As Cirensica

I disagree. Sale provided 158 innings of high quality. Covey would have never been able to do that. That means, the Redsox would have used their bullpen more often, hurting arms, risking of injuries, etc. Sale was so important to them that the fWAR gap between Sale and the Redsox second best starter (Porcello) was a whopping 3.8 (Almost 3.5 Coveys).

karkovice squad

RA9-WAR’s probably better here because what we care about are actual runs and wins. And at ~7 RA9-WAR, plus knock-on effects for bullpen management, etc. there’s a very good case that Sale provided the margin that gave them the division and home field advantage instead of a Wild Card.

Amar

Yes, Season WAR doesn’t suffer from recency bias

CaptainEuphemism

Regarding Sale, why are we assuming that it’s his belly button ring? 😉

oljeto

Say good-bye, Nate.

tommytwonines

Thanks for the Nate Jones contract clarification, Jim. 

Also, can someone tell me this: if Kopech had been a September call-up, instead of an August one, would his mlb clock still be at zero/not started (assuming same innings pitched before his injury). Seems like Giolito and Lopez did this for the Nationals. 

Also also, wasn’t Kopech’s velocity down from pitch one of his mlb career – I want to say he hit 96 during his amped-up debut? Not sure what the velocity was during his last AAA starts. Maybe an MRI should have been performed sooner – hindsight 20/20 yes but red flags were there. 

karkovice squad

September call-ups start the service time clock. That’s why Eloy, defense notwithstanding, wasn’t called up. And as long as Kopech’s UCL tear happened/was diagnosed after reaching the majors, he’d still accumulate service time during the recovery.

Brooks’ data says he averaged 97 in his brief debut and 96 in his longer second start. He maxed out around 99 in his first 2 starts but lost a tick in each of his last 2 starts.

tommytwonines

Thanks, Karko. I’m looking at Lopez’s mlb service line at Roster Resource and indeed that’s the case. I wish they’d pull these guys from the prospect ranks right away, however, if the clock has started. 

Bad luck with Kopech. 

tommytwonines

I guess Kopech basically loses an arbitration year though. 

karkovice squad

Sox are losing a year at league minimum. When Kopech initially reaches arb his salaries might take a hit because he’ll be short on counting stats compared to his service-time peers and having an injury history.

And also might be an extension candidate.

With a caveat for not knowing how CBA negotiations will change things.