The Mets are in the market for another hitter. That doesn’t mean general manager Billy Eppler isn’t able to multitask, though. New York is also looking for opportunities to add to its bullpen. One name that’s recently surfaced in trade rumors is Chicago White Sox closer, Liam Hendriks.
Metsmerized’s Mike Mayer reports the Mets as one of multiple teams who have contacted Chicago about Hendriks. If this actually led to a trade, it’d give New York an unreal trio of bullpen arms for Buck Showalter to use.
Hendriks is entering the final guaranteed season of a three-year, $54 million deal (there’s a 2024 club option available). He signed this contract after posting ERAs of 1.80 and 1.78 in 2019 and 2020, respectively. His time in the Windy City has also been quite effective.
Through 128.2 innings, Hendriks has compiled a 2.66 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with a 39.4% strikeout rate and a 4.6% walk rate. This performance has included a total of 75 saves and a cumulative fWAR of 4.3.
This potential acquisition would fortify the backend of a bullpen that needed to be completely remade at the outset of the offseason. Drew Smith was the only reliever with significant big-league experience guaranteed to return after New York was eliminated from the postseason in October.
That changed in short order with a quick (and record-breaking) agreement to re-sign closer Edwin Diaz. That was followed by a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for left-hander Brooks Raley, along with signing David Robertson to a one-year, $10 million deal and other depth signings.
We’ve heard Eppler talk about increasing the Mets’ run differential this offseason. He didn’t just talk about it in the sense of scoring more runs. That was part of it, but he also mentioned run prevention. This would qualify as an improvement in that department.
Having Robertson, Diaz, and Hendriks in the same bullpen allows Showalter to remain creative with late-game situations. He wasn’t afraid of using Diaz before the ninth inning, or for more than three outs when it was called for in 2022. Each of these hurlers has experience being a full-time closer for multiple years. Diaz is the Mets’ closer, but if Showalter needed to use him earlier, he’d have more than capable alternatives to close games out.
Having both Robertson and Hendriks available would hypothetically keep Diaz as fresh as possible throughout the regular season, as well.
What could the White Sox be looking for in return? The Mets have made Carlos Carrasco and James McCann available in trade talks. However, we don’t know how motivated Chicago is to deal Hendriks. If something were to happen, it’s possible for younger players (either prospects or those viewed as MLB-ready) to potentially get involved.
We’ll see what happens and if these rumors have any legitimate weight to them. Either way, the mere thought of adding Hendriks would give the Mets a three-headed monster in both the rotation and the bullpen.