The Liam Hendriks trade rumors may have been short-lived. On Wednesday, the New York Mets signed reliever Adam Ottavino to a 2-year contract to bolster their bullpen. The signing was announced just minutes after rumors surfaced about their interest in the Chicago White Sox closer.
The speculation surrounding a potential Hendriks trade was not a surprise to White Sox fans. Chicago may have over-invested in its bullpen and created a surplus of arms. Hendriks quickly became a valuable trade piece because of the aforementioned situation. The All-star closer is due $29 million over the next two years, a bit below market value for a top-tier closer.
Moving the Aussie reliever would likely result in a haul robust enough to fill Chicago’s remaining needs. As things currently stand, the South Siders would need to address right field and second base with internal options. The prospects at those positions lack experience, which is a cause for concern. Improvement at both spots could tip the White Sox' scales in favor of a playoff berth.
However, Bob Nightengale of USA Today possibly put an end to those rumors on Friday morning. He reports that the White Sox are willing to listen to offers but intend to retain Hendriks in 2023.
A trade package for Jeff McNeil would add certainty to the White Sox lineup, but it sounds as though rookies Lenyn Sosa and Romy Gonzalez will compete for the starting second base job.
The idea of trading Hendriks is a valid one if the Sox are at their self-imposed payroll limit, but it also comes with some risks. Chicago's only internal replacement closer options are Reynaldo Lopez and Kendall Graveman. Lopez thrived in high-leverage relief situations this past season but has no save opportunities in his career. Graveman has minimal experience with only 16 career saves over the last two years.
It’s certainly possible that the Chicago White Sox may have been underwhelmed by the trade offers they’ve received thus far. This could be posturing to let the league know they need to sharpen their pencils to acquire the two-time Reliever of the Year. Nevertheless, Liam Hendriks will remain a member of the White Sox until further notice.