Saturday, April 20, 2024

Mets Showing Interest In Liam Hendriks


The rumors surrounding Liam Hendriks are heating up once again. Micheal Mayer, a writer that covers the New York Mets, was the first to report that the Mets are one of the teams that have contacted the White Sox about trading for Hendriks. MLB Insider Jon Heyman later confirmed the report, tweeting:

“The Mets are among teams showing interest in White Sox star closer Liam Hendriks. Would be quite the pen tandem with Diaz. But many like him, including White Sox.” 

The Mets are hoping to build a juggernaut bullpen to compensate for the losses of Jacob deGrom, Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker from the rotation. 

Adding Hendriks would accomplish just that. For the past two seasons, Liam Hendriks has been a dominant closer for the White Sox. In 2021 he was named the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year for the second straight season, becoming the first pitcher to earn the award in consecutive seasons. He led the American League in saves (38), strikeouts (113), WHIP (0.73), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (16.14). 

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In 2022 the Australian was named an All-Star for the third straight season. His ERA went up a tick in 2022 from 2.54 to 2.81, but he still managed to log 37 saves. Hendriks has consistently been one of the best relievers in baseball over the last four seasons. Unfortunately, the White Sox have a lot of holes to fill this off-season. While they would like to hang onto one of the only players who has excelled at their job for the past two seasons, they still have needs to fill at second base, and Hendriks is one of their only tradable assets. Their 26th-ranked farm system doesn’t help matters. 

Possible Trade Targets 

Unfortunately for the Mets, acquiring Hendriks won’t be cheap. His contract suddenly looks very team-friendly after the Mets reset the closer market by signing Edwin Díaz to a record-breaking five-year deal with a reported value of $102 million. The White Sox signed Hendriks to a four-year deal worth $54 million before the 2021 season. That deal now looks like a steal and makes his two years of control all the more attractive for teams looking for reliever help. 

A possible package for Hendriks could include Carlos Carrasco. Joel Sherman of The New York Post reported that the Mets are listening to offers for the veteran right-hander. Carrasco will turn 36 in March but is coming off a solid season in Queens. 

In 29 starts, he posted a 3.97 ERA in 152 innings with a 23.6% strikeout rate, 6.4% walk rate, and 46% ground ball rate. His high-ground ball rate would play particularly well at a hitter’s park like Guaranteed Rate Field. His 3.53 FIP, 3.45 xFIP, and 3.60 SIERA would look nice at the back end of the White Sox rotation and add some insurance for the injury-prone Micheal Kopech. However, the Carrasco alone won’t be enough to add Hendriks. 

Jeff McNeil is another potential target. McNeil is a career .307 hitter with a .828 OPS in five seasons. He isn’t known for his power but he hit a career-high 23 homers in 2019. Last season he had 39 doubles and drew 40 walks. Adding Mcneil to the lineup would be a significant addition to the White Sox lineup and a clear upgrade over what they have been trotting out the last several seasons.

Eduardo Escobar would be another name to monitor. The White Sox need a second baseman, and while Escobar has spent most of his career at third base, he does have 139 games at second under his belt. He can hit for power, with 20 home runs last season, and has hit 20 plus in five of the last six seasons, the shortened 2020 being the only exception. The White Sox were rumored to be in on him while he was playing with the Diamondbacks during the 2021 trade deadline. 

Growing Rumors Around Hendriks

This isn’t the first time Hendriks’s name has popped up in trade rumors. During the Winter Meetings, Mark Feinsand of reported that White Sox closer Liam Hendriks’ name has come up in trade talks with other clubs. 

Soon after, NBC Chicago’s Chuck Garfein Tweeted a quote from White Sox general manager Rick Hahn that led to further speculation that Hendriks days could be numbered. Hahn was asked about the possibility of a big trade this off-season. He responded by saying:

“A blockbuster, earth-shaking move was probably a little less on the agenda (last year). This year I think we have to be open-minded, given the way we performed in 2022.” 

Feinsand pointed out that Hendriks has a limited no-trade clause that allows him to veto a trade to five ballclubs. It is unclear if the Mets are on that list. 

Internal Options For Closer 

If the White Sox were to trade their 33-year-old closer, they would have plenty of internal options to take over the ninth innings. Kendall Graveman recorded ten saves in 2021, while Reynaldo Lopez has shown flashes of potential. 

Lopez said his goal is to eventually become the White Sox closer. Lopez has all the tools to be a dominant closer. He throws hard and does not walk, guys. His 4.3 walk rate in 2022 ranked in the top five percent of all MLB pitchers. According to Baseball Savant, his fastball velocity ranks in the 93rd percentile. In 2022 he posted a career-low 2.76 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and held opponents to a .218 batting average. 

Another candidate would be hard-throwing left-hander Garrett Crochet. Crochet posted a 2.82 ERA out of the White Sox pen in 2021. However, he underwent Tommy John surgery before the start of the 2022 campaign, forcing him to miss the entire season. 

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