Chris Sale still has the ability to lead the Cardinals rotation
The idea of trading for a starter who has been battling injuries might be unthinkable for some, but as we will get into, the cost to acquire Sale will be nowhere near the price of other starters on the market, and likely would not even remove St. Louis from the market for a "reliable ace".
Over the last two seasons, Sale has battled those freak injuries, limiting him to just 11 starts. He has still produced in those 48.1 innings, posting a 3.17 ERA and elite 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. It's not like Sale has lost the ability to pitch, he just had maybe some of the worst injury luck in baseball history as of late.
It's one thing to acquire a starter with nagging elbow or shoulder issues. Those things are not just fluky, they are prone to continue. Yes, Sale had Tommy John surgery, but pitchers come back from that all the time now, and he has shown he is still close to his old form post surgery. The only thing that has been standing in his way is line drives and bike accidents.
With no clear options available on the market, why not take a swing at a guy who could very easily return to his elite form and give you an ace for the next 2-3 seasons, on what would be a bargain contract after Boston eats some of it. Sale has 2-years, $55 million left on his deal with a vesting option for 2025 at $20 million if he "places top 10 in Cy Young voting and remains healthy". Due to a bunch of deferments in his contract though, he only makes $17 million per year the next two years and $15 million in the vesting year.
Here is how St. Louis and Boston could come to an agreement that would benefit both sides for 2023 and beyond