The hot stove, at least as it pertains to Liam Hendriks, appears to be heating up.
Hendriks, the top closer on the free-agent market, still has the eye of the White Sox, who are reportedly among the teams interested in the All-Star ninth-inning man. So, too, however are the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as the Toronto Blue Jays, who reportedly hosted Hendriks on a visit to their spring training facility Monday in Florida.
FanSided's Robert Murray reported the White Sox interest, as well as that of the Dodgers, who are fresh off snapping their championship drought in 2020. SportsNet's Shi Davidi wrote on Hendriks' visit to the Blue Jays' complex in Dunedin, Florida. Hendriks pitched for the Blue Jays in 2014 and 2015. The Blue Jays have been a frequently mentioned club this winter, said to be one of the more aggressive teams chasing top free-agent outfielder George Springer.
The White Sox were also recently said to have "stayed in touch" with Alex Colomé, another one of the top relief arms on the free-agent market and their closer the past two seasons. Interest in both Hendriks and Colomé could signal the White Sox desire to add a dependable, veteran ninth-inning man to their 2021 bullpen, not a bad idea as it would allow their fleet of talented relief pitchers to continue in the roles they had success in last season.
That said, general manager Rick Hahn mentioned earlier this offseason that the team recognizes that it has internal options to turn to should a new closer be necessary. That group would figure to be headlined by Aaron Bummer, who received a long-term contract extension last spring, but also includes Evan Marshall, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster and others, perhaps even rookie fireballer Garrett Crochet.
Even after the White Sox traded for Lance Lynn, who has been one of the finest starting pitchers in baseball the past two seasons, a certain segment of the fan base craves another splashy addition this winter. Hendriks would certainly fit that bill. He's been one of the top closers in baseball the past couple of years, saving a combined 39 games and posting a 1.79 ERA in 2019 and 2020 with the Oakland Athletics. The White Sox got an up-close look at exactly what Hendriks can do, when he blew away three of the four South Side hitters he faced in the decisive Game 3 of the American League Wild Card Series in October.
Hendriks, who can light up the radar gun, was an All Star in 2019 and finished ninth in the AL Cy Young vote in 2020. If he joined the White Sox, their pitching staff would boast four of the top nine finishers in that vote: Dallas Keuchel finished fifth, Lynn sixth, Lucas Giolito seventh and Hendriks ninth.