Lance Lynn said the South Side felt more like home to him than any place he'd previously played in his decade-long major league career.
Now, it officially is home.
The Chicago White Sox announced a two-year contract extension for Lynn on Saturday, one that includes a club option for the 2024 season and will keep the big right-hander a South Side mainstay during multiple seasons of the team's contention window.
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Lynn will make $18.5 million in both 2022 and 2023, with the White Sox holding an $18 million option for 2024 with a $1 million buyout.
On and off the field, Lynn has done everything to convince the White Sox that he belongs as an integral part of their long-term championship plans. He currently leads the American League with a 1.99 ERA and is fresh off pitching in the All-Star Game earlier this week. He's struck out 105 batters in his 90.2 innings of work this season, making him well worth parting with the promising career of Dane Dunning in an offseason trade.
But what Lynn has done on the mound — including his bellowing hollers and mouthed profanity after big strikeouts — is only a small sample of what he's contributed to this White Sox team this season.
"It's just his leadership. He commands the room with the guys," White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz told NBC Sports Chicago last month. "The younger guys really respect him, want to hear what he has to say. He's been through a lot. So it's nice to have that kind of leadership and someone that guys can fall back on if they have any questions or thoughts. ... It's really good. He cares about the younger guys. He wants to help. It's an all-around great personality to have in the clubhouse."
"Lance, he's a glue piece for this team," White Sox reliever Codi Heuer told NBC Sports Chicago last week. "Just having him around is huge. He's a guy that's going to go out there and put the team on his back for as long as he can, and he's going to be pissed when he comes out. And that's something you build off. ... Every time Lance is on the mound, I'm like, 'Oh, it's Lance Day. If I'm coming into the game today, I'm shutting it down for my boy.' Because he's going out there and leaving it out on the field. That's contagious."
Indeed, Lynn has been exactly what the White Sox needed coming off of last season. After having no one to turn to to start Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series against the Oakland Athletics, that December trade brought in someone who is as reliable as they come, an innings-eater and someone who, as Heuer mentioned, hates to come out of games.
Now, in plotting their starting rotation for years to come, the White Sox can continue to count on Lynn.
While the White Sox were able to lock up someone who's been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball and an important clubhouse presence, it seems this is a perfect marriage. Lynn described his comfort pitching on the South Side in front of White Sox fans, and he's won over plenty outside the team's employ with his on-field demeanor and press-conference one-liners.
"I think that some of my things that I do on the mound really sit well with the South Siders," Lynn said last week. "You can tell when I come out and warm up for games and stuff like that. They are yelling at me and like some of the things that are not the nicest things that I like to say but they just kind of come out when I compete.
"It’s definitely fun to play in front of those fans, and they enjoy the attitude that I bring, too.
"Living in the suburbs of (the) Indianapolis area, the South Side has a tendency to be a little bit more of a home feeling for me than any other place I’ve played. I’m really enjoying it."
While the White Sox have soared to first place in the AL Central on the backs of starting pitchers who have taken things one outing at a time, looking forward to 2022, it's not very difficult to forecast the team's starting staff.
Lynn can be inked in alongside Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease. Michael Kopech is expected to ascend to the rotation next season, as well. What that means for Carlos Rodón, who also just returned from the All-Star Game and is slated to hit free agency after this season, remains to be seen.
But fans can applaud the securing of a sudden fan favorite on the South Side, someone who they can relate to and someone who relates to them.
Welcome home, Lance.