Cubs Have Talked to Former White Sox Closer Liam Hendricks, Who Will Miss Much of ’24

The Cubs are taking time to turn over every stone in their ongoing search for bullpen help, including the requisite check-ins with injured relievers. One of those is former White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, who will miss at least the first half while recovering from elbow reconstruction on August 2. He told’s Scott Merkin that his very optimistic goal is to return by the trade deadline.

Hendriks was named AL Comeback Player of the Year after winning a battle with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He managed just five innings in as many games at the big-league level, though Merkin notes the fiery fireballer was still touching triple digits even with a torn UCL. Hendriks’ average fastball, however, was down two ticks from the last couple of seasons to 95.5 mph.

Feel-good stories will buy a lot of good publicity, but that’s only worth so much to a budget-conscious team like the White Sox. As such, they declined the closer’s $15 million option for 2024. Hendricks will be 35 in February, so he’s about nine months younger than Craig Kimbrel and a year younger than Aroldis Chapman and should have some more strong innings in that right arm.

His injury means those innings will come at a pretty steep discount, at least in the near future. Even if Jed Hoyer is truly open to a multiyear deal or two to buy a little more certainty for the bullpen, getting a bargain on a reliever coming back from Tommy John is like catnip to him. Not that he’s alone, especially when it’s a reliever of this caliber.

“So, there’s always that,” Hendriks told Merkin. “There’s been nothing substantial about any of the conversations we’ve had, but [the Cubs] were one of the teams that reached out pretty early on.”

Unless it’s a team with lots of roster space and no intent on being very active with outside additions, Hendriks may have to wait for Opening Day so he can immediately be moved to the 60-day IL. All things considered, I’d love to see this guy in a Cubs uniform at some point because he’s a really good pitcher who also brings tremendous personality to the team.

Maybe something to put a pin in until we get to the end of spring training. One other quick note: Hendriks would have to change his number since he’d worn 31 with the White Sox. That probably won’t be an issue since he was 62 with the Twins, 39 with the Blue Jays and Royals, and 16 with the A’s.

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