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Red Sox trade Chris Sale to Braves for Vaughn Grissom

“Any time you trade someone like Sale, who has made such a significant contribution to this organization and who has obviously been an incredibly important part of a World Series winning team, it’s a very difficult decision,” he said. said Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow. “But ultimately, I felt like it was the best decision for the Red Sox, both in the short and long term.”

Sale, acquired in a blockbuster trade in December 2016 with the White Sox, spent seven years in Boston. His tenure began with utter dominance, when he finished second in the 2017 AL Cy Young voting with a 17-8 record, 2.90 ERA and 308 strikeouts in 214⅓ innings. However, he hasn’t had a healthy season since.

Sell ​​was overwhelming in 2018 (12-4, 2.11 ERA, 237 strikeouts in 158 innings), but missed nearly two months with left shoulder bursitis. Although his performance fluctuated during the postseason, he finished in spectacular fashion, striking out the team in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium to punctuate the Red Sox’ fourth championship of the century.

Sale received his extension days before what would have been his final season before free agency, but his injury problems only worsened. Sale missed the final six weeks of 2019 with a sprained elbow, then blew his ulnar collateral ligament in March 2020, leading to Tommy John surgery that cost him this entire compressed campaign and most of 2021.

It was the start of a dizzying succession of illnesses – stress fracture of the rib cage, broken finger, broken wrist and stress fracture of the shoulder, among others – which limited him to 34 starts, including three during of the 2021 playoffs, over the last four seasons. .

“Chris gave everything he had and more to our organization,” team CEO and president Sam Kennedy said via text message. “He was always there for his teammates. We are very grateful for his contributions, on and off the field.

Sale showed flashes of dominance last season, looking overwhelming in May – before a 10-week stint on the injured list due to his shoulder injury – and in his final three starts, when he denied to shut down for the season and instead posted a 1.13 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 16 innings.

“He wanted to prove to his teammates that no matter what, you have to find a way to perform regardless of the circumstances,” texted manager Alex Cora, who praised Sale as “transparent, authentic (and) responsible “.

Although Sale once again showed peak ability, with one year remaining on his contract, he fits better in Atlanta, which is loaded enough to be able to handle its workload during the regular season in the hope of a gain in October.

“We think he’s a playoff-caliber starter and that’s what we’ve been looking for,” president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. “We love the makeup, the person and what he brings to the clubhouse.”

Grissom, who turns 23 on Friday, fills a need by giving the Sox a second baseman for 2024 and beyond. He made a memorable big league debut at Fenway in 2022, going 2 for 4 with a home run on August 10 after being promoted from Double A. He hit .291/.353/.440 with five homers and five interceptions – mostly as a second baseman – in the final 41 games of 2022.

But Atlanta’s infield had no vacancies. Grissom has only played in 23 big league games in 2023 while posting solid numbers in Triple A – .330/.419/.501, with 8 homers and 48 extra-base hits in 102 games. A major championship talent, but blocked.

“We weren’t going to be able to draft a guy like Chris Sale unless Vaughn was the guy going the other way,” Anthopoulos said. “You won’t find a better human being.” The makeup is as good as it gets. Very energetic player, makes people around him better, can hit flat, tremendous bat to ball skills. . . . He is absolutely ready to be an everyday player at the big league level right now. And it’s a great opportunity for him in his career.

“He’s going to be a fantastic candidate there,” Anthopoulos added. “It’s a painful (deal) because of how much we care about him, but it fits his career much better.”

Breslow introduced Grissom as “a very strong right-hander who has been an elite player in the minor leagues and someone who has six years of control.” I have spoken at length about the emerging and exciting core of players around whom we wish to build. This group is growing and we definitely have Vaughn in this group.

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Grissom has the talent to improve the Sox’ production at second base, where Boston’s .663 OPS last season was 22nd in the majors. Breslow said the team could view him as an everyday player who projects to add power as he grows.

The roster, however, remains incomplete. Breslow entered the offseason describing an improved rotation as his top priority. With Sale gone and James Paxton a free agent, it’s safe to say that even with Lucas Giolito, who agreed to a two-year, $38.5 million contract on Friday, the starting lineup is depleted compared to a year ago.

Still, there is both money to spend in free agency and a number of young players — particularly the outfielders and middle infielders — to make deals. Saturday’s trade, which adds to an already sizable group of mid-tier prospects, suggests Breslow won’t shy away from using a roster-building tool.

“There’s a lot of time left in the offseason,” he said. “I would always put starting pitching at the top of (the team’s needs, but) I didn’t want to be paralyzed by focusing only on starting pitching (and) pass up the opportunity to improve the long-term outlook. team term. per. But that said, I think we can continue to navigate the market for starting pitchers, both in free agency and trade.

Red Sox history at the Boston Globe
The book covers major headlines from the Boston Globe and Red Sox stories over the past century.

Alex Speier can be contacted at alex.speier@globe.com. follow him @alexspeier.

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