Chris $ale

This is how an ace is born, not with a bang, but with a team-friendly contract extension.

Chris Sale is the first building block in the White Sox team of the future.  He can contribute today, of course, but he will also contribute in 2019.  It’s kind of odd imagining the world of 2019.  I’ll be 39.  According to the movie “Mission to Mars,” we are one year away from sending humans to the Red Planet…and Chris Sale could be in line for an even bigger payday.

If the reaction from the White Sox blogosphere is any indication, new General Manager Rick Hahn passed the biggest test of his short tenure with flying colors.  Here’s the salary breakdown:

$850,000 in 2013

$3.5 million in 2014

$6 million in 2015

$9.15 million in 2016

$12 million in 2017

That’s the guaranteed money.  The contract also contains club options of $12.5 million in 2018 and $13.5 million in 2019.   Bottom line- Chris Sale’s net worth could hit $60 million by his 30th birthday.

And that’s a huge bargain for the White Sox.

As Mark Primiano at South Side Sox wrote yesterday, Sale doesn’t have to do all that much to earn the money.  He needs to be worth at least 7 wins above replacement over the course of five years to make the contract worth it to the White Sox.  Sale generated a WAR of 4.9 in 2012, so he’s well on the way to producing plenty of surplus value to the team.

It also knocks out the arbitration years, and several years worth of free agency.  Sale will turn 24 on March 30th.  The contract extension buys a decade’s worth of good feelings.  Sale, if he builds upon his performance in 2012, will be the Ace of the next generation of White Sox.  He will be the Face of the Franchise after Paul Konerko decides to retire or play for another team.

It also calls to mind another skinny pitcher who qualified for Face of the Franchise at one time.

Jack McDowell

He was one of the key parts of the Sox renaissance in the early 1990’s.  His Sox tenure came to an early end in 1994, thanks (in part) to the bad feelings that were generated by both sides during arbitration hearings.

But that’s the business side of things.  It’s also nice to watch a young star develop right before your very eyes.  As Jim Margalus wrote this morning, the White Sox have had a spotty record when it comes to developing young talent:  Sergio Santos was traded.  Alexei Ramirez cratered after signing a contract extension in 2011.  Mark Teahen…well, the less said about Mark Teahen the better.

“Take those three guys, then add in a couple others who looked like they were destined for such security before succumbing to self-inflicted damage, physical (Carlos Quentin) or psychological (Gordon Beckham). When it comes to cultivating fresh talent, it's been an arid three years.”

After news broke about the Chris Sale extension, I had to dial up the highlights of my favorite game of 2012…Sale’s 13 strikeout performance against the New York Yankees on August 22nd.

That got me more revved up for the season than several hours worth of “Make an Impact” TV spots.

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