BOSTON — The Chris Sale and Pedro Martinez comparisons have been constant. On Tuesday night, Sale undeniably put himself ahead of Martinez in one way.
Sale’s third strikeout of the evening agains the Blue Jays was the 1,500th of his career, making him the fastest to reach that total in MLB history, based on innings. Sale reached the milestone strikeout in 1,290 innings, breaking Kerry Wood’s record of 1,303.
Pedro Martinez is now the third fastest, getting to 1,500 in 1,337 innings. Randy Johnson did it in 1,365 2/3 innings, followed by Nolan Ryan in 1,384 2/3 innings.
Coming off an uncharacteristically terrible start, Sale struck out the first batter he faced. His third K was a strikeout looking of Kevin Pillar, and the ball was taken out of play.
The review that took place after Sale went just three innings vs. Cleveland last time out didn’t suggest he was tipping, manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto.
"As we've gone back and looked at video, they capitalized on pitches up in the strike zone,” Farrell said. “He's going up against the best hitters in the world — all these things that we know. If you locate down in the strike zone, regardless if someone knows what's coming or not, you’ve got a pretty good chance. I can't say there's anything in his delivery that’s telegraphing or tipping or anything. To me, it was more pitches up in the strike zone that they capitalized on.”
Sale’s been particularly comfortable at Rogers Centre, with a 1.13 ERA there in 40 innings to begin the night.
Free agent slugger J.D. Martinez has told the Red Sox he would DH and play the outfield for them, a baseball source said Friday. The flipside: teams are offering Martinez a full-time outfield job, and he enjoys playing the outfield.
Martinez, the best bat available via free agency, visited with teams at the winter meetings this week.
Michael Silverman of the Herald wrote Friday that Martinez has been telling teams he prefers to play the outfield, and suggested the Sox will have to pay a bit more to land Martinez.
“Martinez remains open to being a DH so his preference to play defense regularly does not eliminate the Red Sox from signing Martinez,” Silverman wrote. “It does, however, put them in a position of having to make an aggressive offer that would distance themselves from competing offers where teams can present a corner outfield position.
“Just what defines aggressive is something only Martinez and his agent Scott Boras will ultimately determine.”
The market could start to move a bit now, although that doesn’t mean anything is necessarily imminent. Another baseball source on Friday night noted that the market has started to thaw with Carlos Santana off the board. He agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies.
The Red Sox made an offer for Santana, but the offer made clear that Santana was not their primary choice. In other words, it wasn't close to what Santana ended up with.
A scenario in which Jackie Bradley Jr. is traded to make room for Martinez in the outfield seems reasonable, even if the Red Sox and Boras, who represents Bradley, have both downplayed that possibility.
The Red Sox options for a power bat grew fewer and likely more expensive Friday when former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com and MLB Network was first to report the Santana deal, which comes as somewhat as a surprise with the rebuilding Phillies making a free-agent splash.
The Red Sox reportedly met with Santana earlier this offseason. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that the Sox offered a three-year deal to Santana that wasn't in the range of the Phillies.
He doesn't hit for a high average (.249 career), but his combination of power and walks gives him a career OPS of .810. Last season he hit .259 with 23 homers and 79 RBI and an .818 OPS, and over his career, he has averaged 25 home runs and 85 RBI over 162 games.
That Santana was able to command a $20-million-a-year deal from the Phillies likely raises the price of the other power bats the Sox had reportedly targeted, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer.