The White Sox signed Liam Hendriks for Zach Britton money. The Yankees might want to join this offseason.
At a certain point, the New York Yankees are going to have to join the 2020-21 offseason.
Hendriks agreed on Monday night to what is ostensibly a four-year deal that guarantees him $54 million, though the contract is creatively structured, and only three years of security are assured. His fourth year will either be an accepted option by the Sox or a buyout, and the whole thing equates to $13 million annually for the first three years.
Like we suspected, it proves this offseason will provide a boon to near-contenders who decide they want to go out and grab what’s right in front of them. And watching the White Sox get seamlessly better while actually taking advantage of the rest of their division backsliding should motivate the Yankees to do the same.
Bottom line: it’s helpful that the Rays have regressed, but your enemies growing weaker does not a successful offseason make.
The White Sox watched the Cleveland Indians trade Francisco Lindor, shed the salary of Brad Hand, and deal Mike Clevinger last summer, with more moves potentially to come. They saw their own playoff run end prematurely at Oakland’s hands when their rotation couldn’t hold up, putting undue stress on their very solid ‘pen. With the AL Central carpet rolled out for them and an offseason’s worth of turtling by most of the league to come, they pounced.
Need a No. 3 starter? Lance Lynn, someone for whom the Yankees were not willing to pay the price. Want a bullpen capper? Hendriks could work. Anyone else want to join in? The water’s fine.
Meanwhile, what have the Yankees done to grab the reins from the Rays? Their last major transaction was Oct. 30, when they unexpectedly picked up reliever Zack Britton’s strangely-structured option.
Britton will now remain in the Bronx for two years at $27 million total — and he comes off a three-year, $39 million contract that essentially mimics what Hendriks just agreed to. We’ll take the familiarity, but Hendriks is likely a more dominant reliever.
When the Yankees picked up Britton’s option, that signaled to us that they were ready to be proactive this offseason, adding high-dollar targets at a discount rate simply because the rest of MLB had chosen not to participate in the spending spree. Instead, they’ve let DJ LeMahieu dictate their entire offseason, resting on Britton’s laurels while the White Sox have closed the gap significantly on them.
Unless New York is ready for Chicago to win both the offseason and the ALCS, they should join the offseason, too. Because right now, all the Halloween candy and No. 2 starters are half off.