The pitcher who ended the White Sox season in 2020 is the newest member of the South Side bullpen.
In perhaps their biggest splash of the offseason to date, the White Sox agreed to a three-year contract with free-agent closer Liam Hendriks, according to multiple reports Monday night. Hendriks was one of the finest ninth-inning men in baseball the past two seasons with the Oakland Athletics, posting a 1.79 ERA and saving 39 games.
Hendriks' contract, which according to reports contains a fourth-year option for the 2024 season, also sets the White Sox up with a back-end bullpen solution for multiple years, in line with the team's strategy of long-term contention. The deal, which will reportedly pay Hendriks $39 million over the next three years, will pay him $54 million regardless of whether the White Sox pick up the club option for 2024.
Hendriks pitched the ninth inning of the decisive Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series between the White Sox and A's in October, giving the South Siders an up-close look at just how dominant he can be, blowing away three of the four hitters he faced.
The soon-to-be-32-year-old Hendriks was the biggest name on a particularly loaded closer market during this round of free agency, joined by three-time All Star Brad Hand, formerly of the Cleveland Indians, and Alex Colomé, who did a terrific job closing games for the White Sox the past two seasons.
Though the White Sox bullpen was strong last season and featured numerous talented arms who would have been candidates to step into the closer's role, if necessary, it always seemed like a good idea for the team to staff the ninth inning with a dependable veteran arm. Not only does it continue the team's offseason theme of adding reliable pieces ahead of a 2021 season with championship aspirations, but it allows those other pitchers to remain in the roles they flourished in last season.
Hendriks counts as arguably the biggest addition yet in an offseason that already saw the White Sox make a huge upgrade to their starting rotation, trading for Lance Lynn, who's been one of the game's best in recent seasons. While most teams have stayed relatively inactive to this point in the offseason calendar, the White Sox have been one of the game's few aggressive teams, adding Lynn, a new starting right fielder in Adam Eaton and now Hendriks, declaring their intentions to compete for a World Series title in 2021.