Whose contract is worse between Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and Red Sox’ Chris Sale?

Thomas Carannante
BOSTON, MA - JULY 07: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 7, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 07: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 7, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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Sadly, this is a serious question that deserves a greater conversation, especially since Boston Red Sox fans love to harp on the fact that the New York Yankees overpaid for ace Gerrit Cole when they signed him to a nine-year, $324 million contract before the 2020 season.

Cole’s been largely disappointing — in a vacuum — because he’s been unable to win big games the Yankees needed him to upon bringing him in. That’s allowed the same problem to persist for an additional three years, after they thought throwing money at it would be the antidote.

Instead, in 64 starts with the Yankees, Cole is 32-15 with a 3.27 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 1.04 WHIP and 507 strikeouts across 385.2 innings. Good! But not great. And not close to “ace.” His ALDS Game 5 performance against the Rays was good … but not good enough. He gave up the game-tying home run and then the Yankees lost. Then there was last year’s AL Wild Card Game against the Red Sox at Fenway. Disaster.

So, the right-hander is 2/4 in postseason starts (2020 WC vs Cleveland and 2020 ALDS Game 1 vs Rays as his wins) with the Bombers after signing that mega deal. There are SIX more years after this one, though, so plenty of time to make up for it!

Meanwhile, Sale, who signed a five-year, $145 million extension after Boston’s 2018 World Series victory, has pitched in a grand total of 195.2 innings from 2019-2022. That’s four seasons. He’s averaged 50 innings per season ever since getting $29 million per year.

Who has the worse contract: Yankees’ Gerrit Cole or Red Sox’ Chris Sale?

On Tuesday, Red Sox fans were devastated to learn that Sale suffered a broken wrist falling off his bike, which officially ended his 2022 campaign. The left-hander was making his way back from a broken pinky he suffered against the Yankees a few weeks back.

So, to summarize, Sale has now dealt with rib, back, elbow, finger and wrist issues since 2019. His 4.09 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over that span is, like, No. 4 starter material. Very bad. His numbers, overall, as a Red Sox, are damn good, though. He’s 40-25 with a 3.09 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 820 strikeouts in 95 starts (568 innings).

But to make matters worse, Sale’s injury issues will only further convince him to opt into his player option for the 2023 season, which will trigger a three-year, $75 million extension, essentially.

You tell us. What’s worse? Overpaying for Gerrit Cole at $36 million to get perennial No. 2 starter production for 30+ starts per season, or paying Chris Sale an AAV of $29 million to make 36 total starts since 2019? An important thing to remember here is that Cole’s deal takes him through age-37 and Sale’s takes him through age-36.

Cole might have his little baby tendencies, like losing his mind over Billy Crystal, not being able to respond to the media with actual words, or not being able to figure out who his favorite personal catcher is … but at least he isn’t an unhinged television shatterer who unravels at the drop of a hat and then defends his poor behavior by calling out the media (yup, that’s Sale!).

In most Red Sox-Yankees arguments, we’re inclined to lean Yankees. But here, it’s pretty obvious. At least Cole is available and pitching fairly well. Sale is unavailable, is a massive distraction, and had all of his success in Boston before he was getting paid a massive sum of money. As frustrating as Cole is, we’ll take him 10 times out of 10 over Sale.

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