Red Sox talking extension with left-hander Chris Sale

Having already picked up Chris Sale's contract option for 2019, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said Monday that the team has opened discussions on signing the left-hander to a long-term deal.

"We have had private conversations," Werner said on WEEI Radio. "The best thing for us is to keep these conversations private. And we have to come to an understanding that is good for both sides. But we've had conversations with him. In a perfect world, we'd love to have him back. He's one of the great pitchers in the American League."

Sale was typically dominating in the first half of the 2018 season, going 10-4 with a 2.23 ERA, but he had two stints on the disabled list in the second half and pitched just five innings between July 28 and Sept. 10.

Sale finished the regular season 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA over 158 innings, his lowest innings total since he became a starter with the Chicago White Sox in 2012. He made three starts and two relief appearances in the postseason as the Red Sox went on to win the World Series, posting a 4.11 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, while striking out the side and recording the final out in the deciding Game 5 of the World Series against the Dodgers.

In an attempt to avoid future arm issues, the seven-time All-Star said he focused this offseason on adding strength to assist with arm deceleration.

"I was basically working on the brakes," Sale said, according to The Athletic. "Last year, that's what got me. My arm was moving fast, but I didn't have the strength, or the muscle capacity, to slow it down."

Sale, 29, is scheduled to make $15 million in 2019, the final season under a team-friendly five-year, $32.5 million deal he signed with the White Sox in 2013 that included two club options.

Sale, who is 103-62 with a 2.89 ERA over nine seasons, is set to become a free agent following the 2019 season. But the open market has not been kind to high-end free agents the past two seasons with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper still looking for suitors with spring training having already started.