The White Sox bullpen just received a major improvement in Liam Hendriks.
Hendriks was the best closer on the free agent market, with an ERA under 2.00 over the past two seasons with the Oakland Athletics. While Billy Beane and Co. opted not to bring back their best relief pitcher due to financial constraints, the White Sox have proven their willingness to add this offseason.
Chicago traded for then-Texas Rangers ace Lance Lynn earlier this offseason, and have now boosted their pitching staff even more with Hendriks. Suddenly, the White Sox bullpen is an obvious strength, with the likes of Codi Heuer and Aaron Bummer setting up an All-Star closer.
Liam Hendriks' deal with the Chicago White Sox guarantees him $54 million, sources tell ESPN. It goes for three years and includes an option for the fourth.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 12, 2021
The Astros and Dodgers had been in the running for Hendriks as well.
Where do the White Sox fit in the AL Central picture?
For any team on the rise, possessing a lockdown bullpen is essential to that success. The South Siders enjoyed a short postseason run in the 2020 60-game campaign, and are looking to build upon that moving forward.
The Central remains wide open for the Sox, should they make the right moves. Cleveland took a significant step back this offseason by letting Brad Hand go and trading Francisco Lindor. Meanwhile, the Twins have essentially stood pat, with reliever Trevor May joining the New York Mets in free agency. The Tigers, meanwhile, are still at least a year away.
The time for the White Sox to jump to the top of that division is now. Signing Hendriks not only improves the bullpen, but also sends a signal to the rest of the AL Central.