Chicago White Sox sign superstar closer Liam Hendriks

Liam Hendriks agreed to a three-year contract with the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.

With the calendar officially turned to 2021, the MLB hot stove is continuing to slowly heat up. Liam Hendriks, the best reliever in baseball for the past two seasons, is the latest name off of the board. Hendriks agreed to a three-year contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports broke the news on Monday night while most of the country sat at home watching the college football national championship.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand confirmed the news on Twitter, specifying a three-year deal worth $54 million guaranteed. The signing includes a club option for the fourth year and marks the largest free-agent deal of the offseason thus far.

The 31-year-old Hendriks was virtually unhittable during his past two seasons with the Oakland Athletics. During this run, Hendriks pitched to a 1.79 ERA with 161 strikeouts and 24 walks in just over 110 IP. Hendriks ranked as Call to the Pen’s top free-agent relief pitcher this offseason after taking home a ninth-place finish in the Cy Young Award voting and AL Relief Pitcher of the Year honors.

Chicago has been one of the busier teams during a slow offseason. The White Sox traded for Lance Lynn last month. Lynn owned a 22-14 record and 3.57 ERA for the Texas Rangers over the past two seasons. Two days later the team signed free-agent Adam Eaton, who averages .282 at the plate and presents a solid defensive option in the outfield.

While Lynn added enough depth to make the Chicago White Sox starting rotation elite, Hendriks accomplishes the same for the bullpen. Last year, Chicago’s bullpen ranked seventh in team ERA (3.76) and WHIP (1.253).

One area the bullpen rated average, however, was strikeouts per nine innings. Chicago’s relievers only recorded 9.3 strikeouts per nine, which ranks 17th in the league. Hendriks ranked 19th in this statistic, at 13.3 strikeouts per nine, amongst relievers pitching at least 15 innings last year.

Hendriks solves a potential question mark for Chicago’s ninth-inning man as current closer Alex Colome hit free agency this offseason. It’s unclear if Chicago will be able to retain Colome, who converted 12 of 13 saves last year, but watch out if they do. This team already possesses one of the scarier lineups in baseball. Add in a potentially elite starting rotation, and one of the game’s best closers, Chicago may be championship bound in 2021.