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The Chicago White Sox have signed free agent reliever Liam Hendriks to a three-year, $54 million deal, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. CBS Sports HQ Baseball Insider Jim Bowden confirmed the signing. The deal includes a club option for a fourth year, and it's $54 million guaranteed, Rosenthal notes.

At $18 million per year, Hendriks breaks the record average annual value for a relief pitcher, Bowden notes. He surpasses right-hander Wade Davis' three-year, $52 million contract he signed in 2018 with the Colorado Rockies.

Liam Hendriks
BOS • RP • #31
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Hendriks, who turns 32 next month, has spent the past five seasons with the Oakland Athletics, helping the A's to an AL West title last season. In 2020, Hendriks saved 14 games in 15 chances and recorded a 1.78 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 37 strikeouts against two unintentional walks in 25 1/3 innings. He finished ninth in the AL Cy Young voting and 13th in the AL MVP voting.

CBS Sports ranked Hendriks as the 20th-best free agent available this winter. Here's what our R.J. Anderson had to say about the right-hander:

The beauty of fastball-slider relievers is you never know which one is going to break out or when. Hendriks is a good example. Over the last two seasons, he's thrown 110 innings of 1.79 ERA ball, and has done so while striking out 161 and walking 24. Was there any real indication that this was coming? Not so much. In the preceding three years (all spent with the Athletics, mind you), he had a 4.01 ERA and a 3.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Anyway, here's hoping Hendriks receives the payday he deserves, especially after he followed in the footsteps of Nathan Eovaldi and Brandon Morrow this postseason, going above and beyond and risking injury despite his looming date with free agency. Selflessness ought to be rewarded, after all.

It's been another busy winter for the White Sox. Along with the Hendriks signing, the club also acquired right-handed starter Lance Lynn in a trade with the Texas Rangers and signed free agent outfielder Adam Eaton. In 2020, the White Sox made the expanded playoffs, snapping a 12-year postseason drought, before falling 2-1 to the Oakland Athletics in the American League Wild Card Series. 

This offseason, they fired AL Manager of the Year finalist Rick Renteria before announcing the puzzling hiring of Tony La Russa as the new skipper