Well, the American League East just got that much harder.
According to multiple reports, including one from Fox Sports, the division champion Boston Red Sox have acquired 27-year-old lefty Chris Sale for four prospects, including highly regarded Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada.
Sale, who has finished in the Top 6 in Cy Young voting each of the past five seasons, is one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers. He struck out 233 batters while walking just 45 in 226 2/3 innings last year for the Chicago White Sox.
He’ll be joining a Red Sox rotation that already includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, 2012 Cy Young winner David Price and knuckleballer Steven Wright.
It’s not good news for the Orioles, who hit .234 with a .301 on-base percentage against left-handers last year. The Red Sox won 11 of 19 against the Orioles in 2016 – and captured the division crown by four games.
The Orioles have had a modicum of success against Sale in limited action while he was in Chicago. He is 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA in 11 games (five starts) versus the Orioles.
They’ll get to see him a whole lot more in the near future. He is under contract through 2017 and the Red Sox now hold his team options for 2018 ($12.5 million, with a $1 million buyout) and 2019 ($13.5 million with a $1 million buyout).
Before Orioles’ fans complain about why their team didn’t attempt to get Sale, it must be pointed out that they didn’t have near enough in their system to match Boston. Not even close.
Moncada, 21, is widely considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Right-hander Michael Kopech, a first-round pick in 2014, is just 20 and throws 100 mph. And the Red Sox sent two more prospects to Chicago for Sale. That’s a 4-for-1 deal including two high-end prospects.
It’s a huge price to pay – and something the Orioles couldn’t have done – but a tremendous pickup for the Red Sox, who also added reliever Tyler Thornburg earlier Tuesday in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.