With Chris Sale signing on the dotted line for $1.656 million, the natural reaction of most writers and fans is that the White Sox did an incredible job of taking the best available talent and signing him for slot money. All credit goes to the team.
I have some other thoughts on the matter. I call this a win for agent B.B. Abbott and Sale. Think about it like this:
Sale could have waited for the signing deadline, signed for $2 million, $344,000 over slot, and then waited for Intructional League and the Arizona Fall League to get going. He would have started out at High-A next spring, probably jumped to AA after 7-8 starts, and likely not ended in the Major Leagues until September, if at all. Under that scenario, he's still only secured roughly $2.04 million total for two years, provided he doesn't see big league action next year.
What agent B.B. Abbott worked out was that Sale would sign for slot, but he'd be used as a reliever this year. First, that protects his arm, as he's thrown a number of innings this spring. That's win number one. Win number two is the fact that the White Sox are shooting to bring him up to the Majors as a bullpen arm sometime in August or September. That doesn't just qualify him to get about $70,000 in Major League pay. That also brings him the benefits of the Player's Union. Not only does that mean he's on the 40 man roster, that means he gets split pay next year when he's in the minors as a starter. That's the difference between about $30,000 and $65,000, the minimum for a player on optional assignment with at least a day of Major League service time. He's also going to be eating away at his options next spring, and the chances of him not ever getting Major League pay go way down once he's on the 40 man roster. See how we're eating away at that $344,000 difference in bonuses between signing now and in August?
This is a win-win signing, and it seems to me like B.B. Abbott deserves some applause for working the system. The Commissioner won't approve a $2 million bonus right now, but he will approve a slot signing. With the agreement to develop Sale in the bullpen, this contract could easily be worth more than $2 million in direct pay and benefits a year from now.
Excellent deal for both sides.