The White Sox have had a hard time nailing down a consistent bullpen this past decade. Besides the last two years, they haven’t placed on the top-10 ERA list at all. And since the year 2000, they’ve placed in the top 5 only once – in 2006. Each division rival hit the top 5 at least twice according to ESPN’s team pitching stats. So, after every White Sox season, it’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “our bullpen needs work.” It can be extremely hard to build a consistent bullpen in the MLB and can be even harder when the team is investing in position players rather than pitching.
But with the White Sox reuniting with Adam Eaton on a one- year, $8 million short-and-sweet deal, it’s clear they are ready to throw the big bucks at pitching. All eyes are on free agent starting pitcher and innings eater Trevor Bauer. Any team that signs him will pay a hefty price for a long-term contract. If the Sox somehow pull him in, they certainly will be world series contenders even with the bullpen they have, but if they can’t, they might not be able to get over that hump if they can’t reel in a solid closer. With each new day, the chances of signing Bauer are getting slimmer. The Sox should start shifting their focus to the bullpen, specifically a closer. The market has some great options but the two options that keep showing up in the rumor mill are former Sox closer Alex Colomè and former A’s closer Liam Hendriks. The question is, which one?
THE FAMILIAR OPTION…
Alex Colomè was exceptional for the Sox last year with a 2-0 record, an .81 era, and a WAR of 1.0 in 21 games. And in 2019, even though he was 4-5, he posted 30 saves, a 2.80 era, and a 1.1 WAR in 62 games. He’s was also an inspiration for his younger teammates on the White Sox. “I love watching him do his thing,” relief pitcher Cody Heuer said to Comcast SportsNet Chicago. “He’s been doing it for a while now. He’s our horse, the ‘Caballo.’ Every time I see him get up and get his work day in and come out and close the game for us, I try to watch really closely because he’s been doing it for a while and doing it right for a reason. I’m trying to pick up little things here and there and see what makes him click.”
His career has been consistent since starting with Tampa Bay in 2013. Resigning Colomè would put the Sox bullpen back in the mix to be one of the league’s best and with the addition of starter Lance Lynn, another innings eater, the young arms will stay fresh. The downside to resigning Colomè is that he cost almost 18 million in two years for the Sox. His market value has gone up after last season and if the Sox are in pursuit of Bauer, it might be hard to spend the money on an extended stay for Colomè.
THE OTHER OPTION…
The southside has also been linked to former A’s closer Liam Hendriks who has positioned himself as a top tier closer after a stellar last two seasons yielding a 1.79 era and striking out 161 batters of 110.1 innings. His diversity of pitches can help get out of sticky situations and his experience in post seasons in the last three years is a big plus for a team that’s expected to go far. In 2019, his WAR was 3.5 and in 2020, 1.4. The only downside is that before the 2019 season, Hendriks wouldn’t have been considered a top tier pitcher. Only one other time in his decade long career has he had an era below 3.0 and WAR that’s 1.0 or above. Sources say Hendriks is looking for a three-year deal. It might be worth it if the Sox think he’s found his groove and can get him at a good price, but again, his market value has also gone up after last season.
Judging by the history of the White Sox spending habits, or should we say saving habits, if the Sox can actually sign Bauer, it seems doubtful Colomè and Hendriks will wear a Sox uniform. But, if the Sox don’t sign Bauer, which seems likely at this point, they will have enough dough to spend on either of those players, if not both. If the Sox opt out of signing another starter and trust Cease and Kopech in the back of the rotation, they should spend the money on both Colomè and Hendriks for a top ten bullpen. Now, If they can sign a veteran back of the rotation starter, move Cease or Kopech to the pen, and bring in one of those closers, expect to see them in the top five. Any way it goes, the American League is in trouble.
Ya know, this is tough, and to be honest I would love to bring back both and start getting Crochet in as a spot starter (unless he the team wants him to be already), but realistically both are going to want to get paid and both will be paid, and with the young bullpen already, I think bummer could end up sliding into the closer role. If I really had to choose between Hendriks and Colome, one side of me would want to go to Colome because he is consistent even if the peripherals are against him, and he’s been good for much longer than Hendriks. However, another side, the stronger side, wants the Sox to pick up Hendriks on a 3 year deal with an option for a 4th, just because Hendriks should produce at an elite level still, and he is 3 months younger! Although Colome would definitely help, the Sox are in the win-now mode, as proven by the Lance Lynn trade, and they should definitely be targeting Hendriks first, and then the weird stuff can come in and try for Colome at a cheaper deal (it won’t happen, but let me dream).
I’d take any 2 out of Colome, Hand, Bradley, Rosenthal or Soria. 2 years 7 million and a team option. 1st 2 to say yes are in
Why not both? The same reason we’re likely to get neither. $$$