The White Sox appear to be focused on crossing closer off their to do list. They have also zeroed in on some targets. What has been a relatively lukewarm stove has been heating up for relief pitchers, specifically Liam Hendricks and Brad Hand both of whom the White Sox are “in” on. The White Sox have also stayed in touch with last seasons closer Alex Colomé. All three of them are premium arms to have in the back end of a bullpen.
It’s not as if the White Sox don’t have internal options. The White Sox already have Aaron Bummer, who received a contract extension last spring, Evan Marshall, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster and as of now flamethrower Garrett Crochet. But adding a dependable ninth inning man to an already impressive fleet of relief pitchers would make scoring runs against this bullpen a tough task. So what would the White Sox be getting if they ink a deal with one of the three pitcher they are linked to and who are they competing with?
The White Sox got a heavy dose of Liam Hendricks during last years Wildcard Series. He overpowered White Sox hitters in a decisive Game 3. Hendricks had a career revival in 2019 when he made his first All-Star appearance thanks in large part to his microscopic 1.80 ERA and 25 saves. He followed that performance up with a 1.78 ERA and 14 saves in the 2020 shortened season. Hendricks is also supposedly on new manager, Tony La Russa’s offseason wish list.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, his performance did not go unnoticed. FanSided’s Robert Murray reported the World Series champion Dodgers are interested as well as a talented young Blue Jays team.
Dodgers have strong interest in free-agent reliever Liam Hendriks, according to league sources. Hendriks is visiting the Blue Jays complex in Dunedin today and is drawing interest from the White Sox, among others.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 4, 2021
Hendricks reportedly visited the Blue Jays complex in Dunedin, Florida. It should also be noted that the he pitched for the Blue Jays in 2014 and 2015, so he is familiar with the organization. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the after resigning setup man Blake Treinen the Dodgers are looking to build a “super pen”. They certainly have the resources to do so. The Mets are also said to be in the mix.
Jon Heyman also reported that the White Sox are one of the teams “in” on former division rival Brad Hand.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 6, 2021
Hand is coming off an excellent season in 2020. The veteran closer went 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA and a MLB best 16 saves converting on every save opportunity he had. Despite Hand’s average fastball dropping from 92.7 mph to 91.4, he still recorded a 33.7 percent strikeout rate and a 4.7 percent walk rate over 22 innings. He is certainly familiar with the AL Central after spending the past three season with the Indians. He made three All-Star teams from 2017-2019 and over the past four years has racked up over 100 saves and a 2.61 ERA. It came as a shock when Cleveland declined his $10 million dollar option for 2021 then 29 other teams refused to pay that amount allowing him to clear waivers to become a free agent.
Like the White Sox, the New York Mets also have interest in Brad Hand.
The White Sox former ninth inning man “Mr Smiley” Alex Colomé is still a viable option for the White Sox. He has closed out games for the White Sox the past two season and has had great success doing so. In 2019 he had a 2.80 ERA and 30 saves. His 2020 campaign was even better when he posted a razor thin 0.81 ERA. Colomé has arguably the most proven track record of the three. He was an All-Star with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016 and led the league with 47 saves the following year. Since the start of the 2016 season Colomé has complied 138 saves.
But like most things of value he will come with a high price tag. The Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins are all among teams interested in his services. It would be a painful blow to lose Colomé to a division rival like the Twins, especially if they cannot convert on Hand or Hendricks.
The White Sox have three good options available to lock down the ninth inning. Striking out would be a costly blow to their World Series aspirations.