Rays right to cut ties with ex-top pick Josh Sale

Since being a first-round draftpick in 2010, Josh Sale has run into a litany of problems, including two suspensions imposed by Major League Baseball and a third by the Rays.
Since being a first-round draftpick in 2010, Josh Sale has run into a litany of problems, including two suspensions imposed by Major League Baseball and a third by the Rays.
Published March 1, 2015

The Rays made the right move in releasing thrice-suspended 2010 No. 1 draft pick OF Josh Sale before he did something else wrong.

If anything, the only question is what took them so long.

As they have with other troubled players, the Rays showed considerable patience with Sale, a power-hitting outfielder they took 17th overall out of Seattle's Bishop Blanchett High. But Sale, 23 now, turned out to be too much trouble, even with the investment of a $1.62 million bonus and the cache of being a first-rounder.

Sale held out until the deadline before signing in 2010, costing himself a short season of development.

He was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball in August 2012 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, then said he didn't take a banned substance and would have appealed but couldn't recover the evidence to prove it.

Sale was suspended indefinitely by the Rays in May 2013 for disciplinary reasons following an inappropriate Facebook post about a visit to a strip club, then said the time away allowed him to "go home, grow up, take care of a lot of things."

And he was suspended another 50 games by MLB last August after testing positive twice for what is classified as "a drug of abuse.''

Rays officials declined to comment on the decision to release Sale before minor-league spring training opened, but it seems a safe assumption they weren't pleased with his progress and didn't want him around. That he had yet to play above Class A in five pro years didn't help, either.

Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier, who was a 31st-round pick in the same draft and worked his way to the majors, said previously that no one should feel bad for Sale based on the decisions he has made. Saturday, Kiermaier said Sale and others should know better given the opportunity they have.

"Maybe he wasn't doing enough things right to get another chance,'' Kiermaier said. "Who knows if another team will sign him. Maybe the Rays just thought it was time to go our separate ways.''

The Rays' recent history with top picks hasn't been great. INF Tim Beckham (2008) is the only one of their past seven to be close to the majors, and that after a drug suspension and a knee injury. Still, cutting ties with Sale was the right call.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: The market for likely-to-be-traded OF David DeJesus could pick up with the injury to Blue Jays OF Michael Saunders (though not to get back C Dioner Navarro from Toronto) and the potential suspension of Angels OF Josh Hamilton. … C Jose Molina, whom the Rays are paying $2.75 million to not play, joined the Cardinals as a spring instructor and may expand to roving duties. … Though LHP Jake McGee will open the season on the DL, the Rays aren't committed to replacing him with another lefty, meaning Jeff Beliveau could be the only southpaw in the pen. Mike Montgomery could be a candidate as a long man. … One ex-Ray text-messaged after seeing last Sunday's ranking of the team's biggest offseason losses to say former 1B coach George Hendrick deserved a high spot. … 3B Evan Longoria was 51st and RHP Alex Cobb 77th in the MLB Network's ranking of the game's top 100 players. … After initial misgivings, ex-Rays SS Yunel Escobar is said to be embracing the Nationals' plan to use him at second base. We'll see. … guru Paul Lukas ranked the Rays' uniforms 16th in the majors, up two spots. … Pat Burrell, who didn't do much as a Ray, will be added to the Phillies' Wall of Fame in July.