Red Sox appear all-in on re-signing Chris Sale

John Henry (right) said he wants to retain Chris Sale, but the Sox principal owner also understands the realities of the free agent marketplace.
John Henry (right) said he wants to retain Chris Sale, but the Sox principal owner also understands the realities of the free agent marketplace. barry chin/Globe staff/Globe Staff

Sign up for 108 Stitches and get the best Red Sox content right to your inbox.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has a no comment policy when asked about negotiating contract extensions.

His bosses, principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner, weren’t as circumspect on Monday when asked about players entering their free agent seasons.

Yes, the Red Sox very much would like to keep Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale. And they’re looking to make a deal with Mookie Betts, who is two years away from free agency.

“Bogaerts is an extraordinarily great player as are Sale and Mookie Betts. We’d love to be able to have a long-term contract with all of them,” Werner said. “Conversations have been had.”


None of that is much of a surprise. But the Sox appear particularly all-in on Sale, who is 29-12 with a 2.56 earned run average in 59 starts since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox.

“He’s a special player. We would like to be able to sign him. I think he would like to as well,” Henry said. “But there are the realities of the marketplace. This is his opportunity to be a free agent, potentially.”

The situation is similar to spring training in 2014 when the Sox engaged in extension talks with lefthander Jon Lester after winning the World Series. Lester was 30 at the time and Sale turns 30 on March 30.

Negotiations with Lester broke down in March when the Sox made what the pitcher’s camp — and many teammates at the time — regarded as an insultingly low-ball opening offer.

Lester was traded in July and the Sox finished in last place two years in a row. Lester is 61-31 with a 3.33 ERA with the Cubs and has a 2.44 ERA in 12 playoff appearances.


“I think we blew the Jon Lester [negotiations]. We blew the signing in spring training,” Henry said.

Sale made only five regular-season starts after July 27 last season because of a sore shoulder and was limited in the postseason. But Henry defined the issue as being “minor” and not a reason to pause any negotiations.

“He needed some rest at one point,” Henry said. “But he hasn’t had any significant shoulder issues.”

Manager Alex Cora endorsed the idea of extending Sale.

“It would be great. He’s what you want from players,” Cora said. “You talk to him, the [media] interviews and the way he handles everything, handles Boston. He loves it. Very humble guy.”

Rick Porcello also will be a free agent and J.D. Martinez has an opt-out clause in his deal.

Closing out Kimbrel

Werner said it was “extremely unlikely” the Sox would re-sign former closer Craig Kimbrel, who remains a free agent.

But the owners left open the door to an addition of some kind.

“It’s not done until it’s done,” Werner said. “Obviously it’s not perfect. There are some challenges that the team will face and so we’re addressing them.”

Said Henry: “It’s possible. But I think we’re pretty well set. We’re hoping some people that have issues [or] injuries will be back this year.”

Along with Kimbrel, Ryan Madson, Bud Norris, Tony Sipp and Adam Warren are among the free-agent relievers who could theoretically help the Sox.


London calling

Both the Red Sox and Yankees will wear their home uniforms for the series the teams will play in London June 29-30.

The Red Sox will be the home team for both games but Major League Baseball wants the Yankees to wear the iconic home pinstripes for the game for marketing purposes as opposed to their gray road uniforms.

Special guest

US Army Master Sergeant Cedric King (Ret.) watched the workout and is scheduled to address the team on Tuesday.

In 2012, while serving in Afghanistan, King stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both legs along with part of his right hand and arm.

He has since completed the Boston and New York marathons and a 70.3-mile Ironman race, among others, on prosthetic blades.

Fenway South faithful

The Sox drew a crowd of 1,525 for the workout . . . Righthander Mike Shawaryn, a 24-year-old non-roster invitee, will start Friday’s game against Northeastern . . . MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre will be at Fenway South on Tuesday to discuss rules changes and points of emphasis with the coaching staff . . . A year after Eduardo Rodriguez picked up the tab on the team’s preseason dinner [albeit with the help of some well-compensated teammates], Mookie Betts, who has a $20 million salary this season, will get the check in Seattle. “He crushed the arbitration thing; he took advantage of the process so he’s paying for that one,” Cora said . . . Look for Brock Holt to get some more action at first base, Cora said. He started only three games at that position last season.


Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.