Red Sox ace Chris Sale cleared to start throwing after trip to see Dr. James Andrews

After missing the postseason in 2019 and with an ownership mandate to get payroll under the $208 million luxury tax threshold in 2020, the Boston Red Sox face a crucial offseason. New chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has to find a way to trim payroll and stay in contention next year. It's not going to be easy.

Bloom recently received his first piece of good news since joining the Red Sox late last month. Left-hander and staff ace Chris Sale was cleared to begin throwing following a visit to Dr. James Andrews' office last week, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Sale is expected to have a normal offseason from here on out.

Here are the details from Bradford:

According to Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom the pitcher's long-anticipated follow-up with Dr. Andrews, who administered a PRP injection into Sale's elbow in August, took place the week prior to Thanksgiving. The results were positive with the starter getting the go-ahead to immediately start throwing with an eye on participating in spring training.  

Sale battled an elbow issue throughout 2019 and was eventually shut down in mid August. He was originally expected to visit Andrews six weeks following the injection, but GM Brian O'Halloran recently admitted the team decided to slow down Sale's rehab when they fell out of the postseason race. They played it safe in September and October.

The Red Sox gave Sale a five-year extension worth $145 million back in March, and that deal does not kick in until next season. He had his worst season as a starter in 2019, setting new career worsts in ERA (4.40), ERA+ (109), and WAR (2.3). His 93.8 mph average fastball velocity was his lowest since 2012, his first year as a starting pitcher.

Between Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi, the Red Sox have $79 million tied up in three starting pitchers in each of the next three seasons. Those three combined for a 4.93 ERA in 312 1/3 innings this past season and all three spent time on the injured list. Price and Eovaldi have been speculated as trade candidates this winter, though the injuries and contracts complicate things.

The Red Sox currently project to have about $221 million on their luxury tax payroll for 2020, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Bloom & Co. have some work to do to get under the $208 million threshold next year.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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