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Monday, January 11, 2021

Sources: White Sox to sign top free agent closer Liam Hendriks

The Chicago White Sox have agreed to terms with closer Liam Hendriks on a multi-year contract, league sources said Monday.

The deal, expected to be the largest yet in a slow-moving offseason market, is pending a physical.


Hendriks, 31, had 14 saves for the Oakland A’s in the shortened 2020 season. He has 39 saves and a 1.79 ERA in the past two seasons — the best ERA of any pitcher with at least 75 innings. He struck out 161 batters in 110 ⅓ innings in that time. In his final appearance for the A’s, Hendriks pitched three shutout innings at the end of Game 3 of the American League Division Series for the win.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 11, 2021 at 10:35 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: liam hendriks

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 11, 2021 at 10:49 PM (#5999156)
MLB.com is reporting 3/54 which just seems insane.
   2. Bobvila Posted: January 11, 2021 at 10:58 PM (#5999161)
agree. nuts money for any RP.
   3. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: January 11, 2021 at 11:21 PM (#5999166)
MLB.com is reporting 3/54 which just seems insane.


Seems like Reinsdorf has entered the late-stage Ilitch-style part of his ownership and really wants to win before leaving (he's about to turn 86).
   4. The Duke Posted: January 11, 2021 at 11:57 PM (#5999168)
4/54 but the Sox will pay him even if he doesn’t play the last year. Weird. Reinsdorf must assume he’ll be dead in 4 years
   5. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2021 at 02:19 AM (#5999180)
Very weird but Cots describes it as a $15 M club option with a $15 M buyout but if they decline the option then the $15 M is deferred (no details on the deferment ... maybe it's a Bonilla type thing).

As to the $$$ ... it's big-time closer money. Chapman got 5/$86 4 years ago then used his potential opt-out after 2019 to extend it through 2022 at 3/$48 ... so he turned 2/$30 into 3/$48. Jansen signed for 5/$80, decided not to opt out but he had 2/$38 coming his way. Britton ends up with 4/$53 just to be the Yanks' setup man. The Cubs give or take signed Kimbrel for 3/$48. Will Smith, maybe a closer, maybe not, got 3/$40 just last offseason.

I mean I still don't believe in the difference between setup guys and closers but the closers are also usually the most dominant relievers so it doesn't necessarily matter. I don't think these guys are worth this kind of money for this many years but it shouldn't surprise anybody, this is what they're paid on the open market. If the option here is correctly reported, then it's really 4/$54 unless he's so hurt/bad as to be useless in year 4 ... at which point maybe it's deferred so long that the NPV ends up closer to a 3/$48 contract or even cheaper. If (big if) Hendriks can keep this up for 2 more years then it won't matter much what he does the last two years; if he keeps it up for 4 years, they got a bargain.

Per Cots, at 3/$54, it's the record AAV for a reliever; at 4/$54, it's 9th. By total it seems to trail Chapman's original, Jansen and (of all people) Melancon and all of those were signed 4 years ago. It seems to be the first reliever contract longer than 3 years since those as well.

That option makes it similar to that contract that Lackey (right?) signed years ago where the team got a year free if he missed a year to injury. This covers injury and suckitude with the added benefit that Hendriks can't get out of it even if he's really good. I think it should really be considered 4/$54 ... like any team, the Sox can release the guy but will still be on the hook for the money. The only reason they woulnd't exercise that option is if they'd be releasing him from his 4/$54 contract anyway. Maybe the Sox think they've found some clever CBT loophole.

Still I won't be surprised if there was just a typo somewhere and this is 3/$44 guaranteed with a $15 M option ($5 buyout).

Anyway, the demise of the FA market due to covid remains difficult to spot so far this offseason.
   6. asinwreck Posted: January 12, 2021 at 09:00 AM (#5999192)
Sox are probably done with big-ticket purchases, but the team could still use an actual DH who has recorded plate appearances above High-A, a backup catcher, and maybe one more starting pitcher. I'd be concerned about trusting the pitching staff to Zack Collins or Yermin Mercedes for a couple of weeks when Grandal gets hurt again. Curt Casali seemed like a good candidate to pursue, but he'll be Buster Posey's caddy in San Francisco.

Andrew Vaughn should see some time facing upper-minors pitching before he's handed the DH job. This isn't about delaying service time the way Eloy and Robert were delayed until they signed contracts; Vaughn's professional hitting record is fine but hardly dominant in the small sample size of 2019.

A José Quintana reunion would give writers plenty of material with Eaton already on the team.


   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 12, 2021 at 09:56 AM (#5999206)
I don't think these guys are worth this kind of money for this many years but it shouldn't surprise anybody, this is what they're paid on the open market.

It surprises me when Brad Hand gets waived. Why didn't the ChiSox send a C+ prospect to CLE and get Hand for 1/9?

If the industry is retrenching paying $15-18M for a closer is insane. Hendriks isn't even particularly established. He's been elite for all of 110 IP.
   8. The Duke Posted: January 12, 2021 at 10:05 AM (#5999209)
This has TLRs fingerprints all over it. He’s a big believer in having a shutdown closer. He thinks it makes managing the bullpen easier if you have good starters and a dominant closer. Whether Hendricks is that guy is another question. If I were them, I’d add another strong closer/set up man.

The leagues appear to be dividing up into teams that are going for it and teams that are paralyzed by economic fear. The only team that doesn’t fit this dynamic appears to be the Royals who are spending but on medicore players.
   9. Rally Posted: January 12, 2021 at 10:07 AM (#5999210)
I'm still seeing 15 million as the buyout, so this is for all intents and purposes a 4 year guaranteed contract. If Hendriks declines to the point where he's the last guy out of the pen in 2024, you'd still rather keep him than cut him since it costs the same. If he's truly awful or blows out his elbow in late 2023, then you give him the buyout. According to MLBTR, the buyout can be spread over several years so that is a small benefit to the team. If he's not worth keeping, they don't have a 15 million dollar sunk cost on the 2024 budget.
   10. Mark Edward Posted: January 12, 2021 at 10:14 AM (#5999216)
The Sox are big on spending top $$$ for closers because that's the only position they're willing to pay for premium talent; basically they've priced themselves out of every other position. Going into this offseason the Sox needed a top of the rotation starter but they weren't going to pay for Bauer. They needed a corner outfielder but weren't going to pay for Springer. They needed a DH but weren't going to pay for Ozuna. They kinda sorta needed a reliever and top relievers are still in the Sox price range so that's how Hendricks happened.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 12, 2021 at 11:11 AM (#5999227)
Again, why not put in a claim on Brad Hand? Hand must be hurt, right? I don't get the reliever market.
   12. The Duke Posted: January 12, 2021 at 11:47 AM (#5999236)
Does this option really mean he was going to get 3/54 but they tacked on a year to spread the dollars out? Is this a salary cap dodge? But if he really was going to get 3/54 how in the world did he negotiate that ? That would have to be one of the highest AAV for a reliever ever.
   13. GregD Posted: January 12, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#5999262)
Crazy money.

He’s fun to watch and seemingly a very likable and interesting guy and I’ll miss him on the As.
   14. Mark Edward Posted: January 12, 2021 at 01:38 PM (#5999276)
I would've been happy with Hand, but one can argue the Sox 2 top relievers (Bummer, Crochet) are left-handed so they wanted a bit more diversity in the pen.
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: January 12, 2021 at 01:47 PM (#5999278)
Does this option really mean he was going to get 3/54 but they tacked on a year to spread the dollars out? I
No, if he could get 3/$54m he wouldn't have accepted the option year added to it. It's 4/$54m but if he's totally toast after 3 and not worth the roster spot, they get to defer payment of the last $15m of the $54m. The White Sox certainly hope he pitches all 4 years and that the option is picked up rather than the buyout.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2021 at 05:18 PM (#5999335)
#12 ... I mentioned in #5 that at 3/$54 it's the highest AAV ... but not by much, Wade Davis was at $17.3, Chapman, Kimbrel and Jansen are at $16. But it's not 3/$54, as reported it's really 4/$54. The Sox aren't (yet) pushing the CBT threshold so there's no advantage there (yet).

I suppose it's possible it's a "gentleman's agreement Lackey contract" where the Sox have promised not to exercise the option if he's good for the first 3 years but will if he "owes" them a year.

This is the second reliever contract that has me asking about Brad Hand too. Something's gotta be wrong there.
   17. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: January 12, 2021 at 05:24 PM (#5999337)
This is the second reliever contract that has me asking about Brad Hand too. Something's gotta be wrong there.
The simple explanation is that Hand has lost velocity the last two seasons and teams are not confident that he is healthy and/or will be effective in 2021.
   18. A triple short of the cycle Posted: January 12, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#5999348)
Co-sign to GregD comment 13.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2021 at 07:09 PM (#5999360)
teams are not confident that he is healthy and/or will be effective in 2021.

Ironically enough, by ERA+, FIP, HR/9 he had, by far, the best performance of his career in 2020 at his lowest (by far) FB velocity. It was also his 2nd-best in WAR/9 (for lack of any other rate stat for relievers). Of course it was just 22 IP. Anyway, every stat looked as good or better. His K/9 dropped ... but not his K/BF (OK, 34.7% to 33.7%), he just faced fewer batters per inning because of the 226 OBP allowed.
   20. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: January 12, 2021 at 07:49 PM (#5999371)
GB% has been alarming for the last 2 years and the 0 HR in 2020 is obviously not sustainable. The real issue is the FB velocity though. That trend line would be a red flag for me if I was a GM.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 12, 2021 at 09:58 PM (#5999399)
GB% has been alarming for the last 2 years and the 0 HR in 2020 is obviously not sustainable. The real issue is the FB velocity though. That trend line would be a red flag for me if I was a GM.

Sure. But I'd still rather commit 1/9 to a guy who may already be in decline, than 4/54 to a guy who'll very likely will be within a year or two.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2021 at 10:48 PM (#5999406)
#20: Fair enough but his 2019 numbers had the same G/F ratio, his HR/PA didn't go up (lower HR/FB). For 2020 (at least 25 BBE), his avg EV was 341st; the average EV on his FB/LD was 403rd. His LA is among the highest ... but his "sweet spot %age" is 294th. (It's nearly 33%, how could that be low?) His hard hit % was 390th; hard-hit per swing % is 432nd; barrels/PA is 256th.

That was just 2020. His 2019-20 EV is higher than 2017-18 but lower than 2015-16. The LA is up quite a bit; the sweet spot % was well up in 2019 but back to his career in 2020. He was among the top 5% of the league in XBA in 2016-18 and again in 2020 when it was the best of his career; in 2019 it was still just 220. His XSLG in 2020 was 2nd-best of his career after a career-worst in 2019. His 2019 xWOBA was barely the worst of his career; 2020 was the best and a meager 235. His xERA in 2020 was best of his career. Statcast loved this guy in 2020.

In 2017, he threw the 4-seam about 25%, the sinker about 25% and the slider about 45%. In 2018, he pretty much completely dropped the curve (maybe mis-categorized sliders?) and went to 55% slider, 30% 4-seam, 15% sinker. In 2019, he pretty much ditched the sinker (3%) for the 4-seam (42%) but in 2020 the sinker was back (12%). He had much better location of the 4-seam in 2020, burying it on the inside to RHB (which was 90% of his BF in 2020, a far bigger platoon disadvantage than he'd had before). The "sinker" actually was pretty high in the zone but on the outside edge of the plate. It is surprising he wasn't lit up more in 2019 because statcast shows his red zone for the 4-seamer right in the middle of the zone. Looks like the slider has always been unhittable, the sinker always very hittable and the 4-seam varies -- hard to hit in 2020, hit pretty well in 2018-19, very effective in 2016-17.

Again, obviously anything can happen in 22 innings. But if they were a fluke, those 22 innings in 2020 were a statcast fluke. Other than velocity, his statcast numbers are outstanding. The hot zone charts suggest that he may have traded some velocity for location. Maybe he won't repeat that location, maybe he should drop the sinker for a change but these numbers look pretty un-scary. He was 95th percentile or better on XBA, WOBA, XWOBA, K%, BB% and XERA. What more could you hope for in an easily acquired reliever? Maybe he was spending his downtime on Parler.
   23. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: January 12, 2021 at 11:09 PM (#5999410)
If teams thought that they were going to get those types of results in 2021 then someone would have claimed him.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: January 13, 2021 at 01:07 AM (#5999421)
#23: agreed. But if their fear is just based on a drop in velocity, then that's weak sauce. (FWIW, his spin rate and movement haven't really changed, may have gone up.) If there are rumors of injury, that would be different.

I may have finally found the secret statcast explanation ... his Whiff% did drop from the 80th-90th percentile into the mid-30s. And I may have mis-reported a few percentiles earlier, the red highlights seem to be a range but they mostly seemed in the 90s at least.
   25. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: January 13, 2021 at 09:33 AM (#5999444)
like the consensus, crazy money but i'm happy for him (a player i've long liked). it's like they haven't seen what else is happening this offseason.
   26. DCA Posted: January 13, 2021 at 09:59 AM (#5999452)
Hendriks isn't even particularly established. He's been elite for all of 110 IP.

Can't let this pass. Hendriks has only been "best RP in baseball" for 110 IP. But he's been excellent over the last 6 years since moving to the pen: 3.05 ERA, 2.51 FIP in 328 IP which is probably break-even on this contract if he stays healthy.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 13, 2021 at 10:16 AM (#5999454)
Can't let this pass. Hendriks has only been "best RP in baseball" for 110 IP. But he's been excellent over the last 6 years since moving to the pen: 3.05 ERA, 2.51 FIP in 328 IP which is probably break-even on this contract if he stays healthy.

No he hasn't

2015 was excellent. 2016 - 3.76 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 3.50 xFIP; that's just OK for a RP. 2017 - 4.22/3.22/3.66; that's bad for a RP, 2018 - 4.13/4.33/4.56; that's even worse.

So, we have Ex/Meh/Bad/Bad/Ex/0.3 EX.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2021 at 09:40 PM (#6000038)
By the way, Cots has the details. If the team doesn't exercise the option then the $15 M is paid out over 10 years. That's quite a bit of deferment. If he is traded the "option is guaranteed." What in the world does that mean? It's already guaranteed in a money sense and therefore it becoming guaranteed in the "you're on the roster" sense doesn't do Hendricks any good. So I guess it means it's guaranteed in the "paid in full in 2024" sense. Meanwhile he has the right to block any trade in 2021, trades to 10 clubs in 2022 and trades to 5 clubs in 2023.

In NPV terms, the deal is around $48 M if the option is exercised but only drops to $45 if deferred -- I would have thought that would be a bigger effect. In NPV terms, $48 M is about the equivalent of 3/$51. So if it blows up, it's not quite as bad as Wade Davis; if it works out, it's about the same as Zack Britton. (Per Cot's, Britton got 3/$39 with a $14 option but the option had to be exercised this offseason or he could opt out; the Yanks exercised it so it's working out to 4/$53 minus covid.)
   29. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2021 at 10:06 PM (#6000041)
it's like they haven't seen what else is happening this offseason.

Reliever seem to be getting at or near pre-covid prices. Baez got 2/$12; Archie Bradley got about the same as what he'd get in arb; the Dodgers are paying Tommy Kahnle a couple million to rehab; Trevor May got 2/$15; Treinen 2/$17. Maybe Bradley would have normally gotten more than one year.

Things have been slow for the big 3 and LeMahieu might be a bargain but McCann managed to land 4/$40 somehow. A lot of 1-year make good deals out there but given how short 2020 was for everybody, that's not surprising, everybody's projections have some extra wobble in them. But other than all the Central teams (except the White Sox) independently deciding to drop some $10 M arbitration candidate, I haven't seen much concrete evidence of a major contraction. (Clearly no growth.) Now if Springer ends up signing for 4/$90 or something ...

Recall it was always recognized as a weak class. The lack of good rumors around Springer, Bauer and Realmuto suggests some contraction is coming. The 2nd tier is 40-yo Cruz, 34-yo Brantley who played more DH than anything this season (though I don't know why), 30-yo Ozuna coming off a monster DH season and 32-yo Tanaka who's been more reliable than I realized.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2021 at 10:33 PM (#6000049)
LeMahieu for 6/90 is 100 times better than Hendriks at 4/54.

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