It’s been a busy couple of days for the White Sox, who acquired Lance Lynn in a trade with the Rangers and then signed Adam Eaton to a one-year, $7MM deal. However, the Pale Hose aren’t done yet, as The Athletic’s Jayson Stark (Twitter link) reports that the team might still add to both the rotation and outfield even with Lynn and Eaton already in the fold, with Michael Brantley still a potential target. Turning to the bullpen, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the White Sox “have their sight set on” free agent closer Liam Hendriks.
Since Alex Colome is a free agent, Hendriks would be a natural replacement and even an upgrade for save situations. Hendriks has been nothing short of dominant over the last two seasons with the A’s, posting a 1.79 ERA, 13.1 K/9, and 6.71 K/BB rate over 110 1/3 innings, racking up 39 saves in the process. MLBTR projected Hendriks as the top free agent relief pitcher available, though with so many relievers flooding the market, it remains to be seen how sizable a contract Hendriks can land.
There hasn’t been much buzz about the Australian right-hander to date, quite possibly because teams are still weighing all the available bullpen candidates before making a move for likely the most expensive option. Still, Hendriks also has fewer red flags than just about any of the other free agent relievers, so an aggressive team like the White Sox might just want to address their ninth-inning vacancy as quickly and simply as possible. Aaron Bummer or Evan Marshall are in-house candidates for save situations, but the Chicago bullpen would certainly be strengthened overall with the addition of another established stopper.
In contrast to Stark, Nightengale suggests that the White Sox have moved on from Brantley for budgetary reasons, though “they would have preferred” Brantley to Eaton. That said, in a year when the White Sox clearly seem to be in win-now mode, maybe they’re willing to splurge on both Eaton and Brantley to make the lineup as strong as possible. Brantley and Eloy Jimenez could split time between left field and DH, and while it had been widely speculated that the Sox could turn to star prospect Andrew Vaughn as a DH candidate in 2021, the team might prefer an established veteran bat in the lineup rather than a promising but unproven rookie like Vaughn.
Adding another starting pitcher would similarly put more veteran stability in the rotation, with this hypothetical new starter slotting into the fourth spot behind Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Lynn. The White Sox might prefer having Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, and Reynaldo Lopez competing for just the fifth starter’s job rather than counting on two rotation spots to be covered by those three young hurlers.