Are the White Sox the team to beat in the American League?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Chicago White Sox signed star closer Liam Hendriks Monday night, adding another key piece to a roster already loaded with talent.

    The Chicago White Sox signed star closer Liam Hendriks Monday night, adding another key piece to a roster already loaded with talent. AP File Photo

 
 
Updated 1/13/2021 5:35 AM

Before rejoining the White Sox on Dec. 10, right fielder Adam Eaton had multiple conversations with general manager Rick Hahn.

"Going through the process of signing here, what Rick really laid out was the boys are hungry, they want to win," Eaton said. "They're all pulling in the same direction and they want to win. That's all you can ask for."

 

Looking around the National League teams like the Padres, Mets, Nationals and Braves have all made moves to help them win this season.

In the American League, the Sox are thus far the only team that has been adding significant talent.

Two days before Eaton signed a one-year, $7 million contract with an $8.5 million club option for 2022, Hahn acquired starting pitcher Lance Lynn in a trade from the Rangers.

Asked if more moves were in the works after Lynn and Eaton joined the White Sox, Hahn said: "Stayed tuned, we'll see."

Late Monday night, the Sox landed another key piece -- closer Liam Hendriks.

The free-agent signing won't be officially announced until Hendriks passes a physical, but the contract is reportedly $39 million over three years with a mutual option in the fourth year that makes the deal worth $54 million.

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With big names like Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and DJ LeMahieu still on the market and looking for new homes, Hendriks is currently the highest-paid free agent this offseason.

If the last two years are any indication, the 31-year-old reliever should be well worth the big investment.

Hendriks is 7-5 with a 1.79 ERA and 39 saves since the start of the 2019 season. He also has 161 strikeouts and only 24 walks over 110⅓ innings to go with a 0.90 WHIP.

There was some speculation the Sox would turn to Aaron Bummer or possibly rookie Garrett Crochet to close games in place of Alex Colome -- currently a free agent -- this season, but a team with this much talent needs a proven performer in the critical role.

Hendriks fills that void, and there aren't many others on the White Sox's roster.

With spring training still scheduled to open on time in just over a month, it is pretty safe to say the Sox are currently the team to beat in the AL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Rays, who lost to the Dodgers in the 2020 World Series, lost their top two starters. Ace Blake Snell was traded to San Diego and Charlie Morton's option was declined.

The Twins have been very quiet since the season ended and are likely to lose free agents Nelson Cruz and Jake Odorizzi. They also non-tendered outfielder Eddie Rosario.

The A's lost Hendriks and outfielder Robbie Grossman, who signed with the Tigers. Two other key players, Marcus Semien and Tommy La Stella, are also free agents.

The Indians have made no roster additions of note, but they did subtract their best player, Francisco Lindor, and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. The duo was traded to the Mets for prospects.

The Yankees are in danger of losing LaMahieu, one of the best hitters in baseball.

The Blue Jays and Astros have been all talk and no action so far, although there is plenty of time to turn that around.

Add it all up and it's easy to see why the White Sox are eager to get to camp in Arizona next month.

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