Chris Sale to the Majors

The White Sox are always creative when it comes to their bullpen construction. After all, not too many other organizations would have placed Sergio Santos in their opening day bullpen and, by extension, not many would have benefited from his performances to date. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that the White Sox have called up their first round pick, Chris Sale, to work out of the pen this year.

Chicago selected Sale 13th overall out of Florida Gulf Coast. He’s a six-foot-six lefty with a strong fastball that can hit the mid-to-upper 90s with arm action that led at least a few pre-draft reports to suggest his role will ultimately be that of a reliever. That sentence might remind some White Sox fans of the other giant fireball tossing lefty that already resides in their pen – that Matt Thornton fellow – but to say Sale might be able to replicate Thornton’s past few seasons is being optimistic at best; after all, Thornton is one of the best left-handed relievers in the game.

Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds have Chicago with a 54% chance at making the tournament and if Sale can flash heat out of the pen in late game situations, you have to figure it’ll only help. The question is how this will affect his development — if at all. Jim Callis noted that Ryan Wagner is the only draftee since 2003 that got the call before Sale, and… well, we all know how Wagner turned out. You may also remember that Andrew Miller was brought into a similar situation in 2006.

Sale took slot money to ensure his chance at pitching in the bigs this season and it may pay dividends. The White Sox did not sign him to a major league deal, meaning if Sale remains in the big leagues throughout the remainder of the season, or if he goes down for fewer than 20 days before being recalled, he will not burn an option year. Depending on his development, he could be one of those four option year players anyways.

The upside for him is that he’ll get his clock started while receiving a boost to his pay outside of the signing bonus he signed just two months ago. He might also impress enough to earn a spot in the playoffs, but that’s a ways off.

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12 years ago

I think you are missing some things.

Santos only stuck because he was out of options and the White Sox were high enough on him that they didn’t want to expose him to waivers. Otherwise, he would have started the year in Charlotte or maybe even Birmingham. Sure, the move has payed dividends but it’s not like the White Sox knew he was going to be this good, this fast. They got lucky – nothing wrong with that.

Sales is on an inning limit. I’m not sure exactly what it is but he wasn’t going to start 10 games or throw 70 innings no matter what level he was at. So if they think he’s better than Threets then it doesn’t matter. He wouldn’t get more than 20 or 30 innings in the minors anyway so why not bring him up? It’s not like, say, Viciedo, who would be getting more AB in Charlotte and a lot more time at 1B or 3B than he is in Chicago.

12 years ago
Reply to  MikeS

Based on everything I read and heard, Santos earned the spot on the team in spring training. He’s stuck because he’s pitched well. If he hadn’t pitched well, they probably could’ve DFA’d him and chances are he would’ve cleared.

There’s no reason not to bring Sale up to pitch in relief if they think he’s ready. Not sure on all his contract particulars, but if he pitches well down the stretch and/or in the playoffs, he’s a bargain, and anything you get out of him in future years is a bonus.

It would be nice to see Viciedo playing more with the way he’s been swinging.

12 years ago
Reply to  James

I’m with you on Chris Sale. If they think he’s ready, they should take a look.

I don’t think Cooper, Guillen, or the White Sox get enough credit for what they do with pitchers, especially their young pitchers and reclamation projects-be it health or performance failure-they have a very good track record.

And I want to see what Chris Sale can do.

12 years ago
Reply to  James

yes. for those who followed the white sox during spring training, it was obvious santos won the spot with his performance (and his performance in the arizona fall league). he made the options issue a moot point.

and i disagree with r.j that other organizations wouldn’t have done the same thing. there aren’t (m)any teams with such deep bullpens that they would ignore what santos did – along with his potential – and waive him.