White Sox closer Liam Hendriks announced on his Instagram page tonight that he will be starting treatment Monday for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“Hearing the word ’cancer’ came as a shock to my wife and I, as it does to millions of families each year. However, I am resolved to embrace the fight and overcome this new challenge with the same determination I have used when facing other obstacles in my life,” Hendriks wrote. “My treatment begins tomorrow, and I am confident that I will make a full recovery and be back on the mound as soon as possible. I know with the support of my wife, my family, my teammates, and the Chicago White Sox organization, along with the treatment and care from my doctors, I will get through this.”
White Sox GM Rick Hahn also released a statement on behalf of the team: “Our thoughts and reactions at this time are for Liam the person, not Liam the baseball player. I know the entire Chicago White Sox organization, our staff, his teammates, and certainly White Sox fans, will rally in support of Liam and Kristi during the coming months. Knowing everyone involved, especially Liam, we are optimistic he will pitch again for the White Sox as soon as viable. In the meantime, we all will do everything in our power to support our teammate and his family as they face this challenge, while also respecting their privacy. We do not expect to have any updates on Liam’s playing status prior to Opening Day at the very earliest.”
Hendriks celebrates his 34th birthday in February, and the native of Perth, Australia is coming off his third All-Star season. Beginning his big league career with the Twins in 2011, it took Hendriks until 2015 (as a member of the Blue Jays) to really break out, which kicked off a run of four solid but unspectacular seasons of bullpen work. In 2019, however, Hendriks took things to another level, as he has emerged as one of the game’s best closers after posting a 2.26 ERA, 38.8% strikeout rate, and 5.1% walk rate over 239 innings since start of the 2019 campaign.
All three of Hendriks’ All-Star selections have come in that dominant four-year stretch, and it led to a big free agent payday during the 2020-21 offseason. Hendriks is two seasons into a three-year, $54MM deal with the White Sox that includes a unique $15MM club option for 2024 that also carries a $15MM buyout (which would be covered in deferred payments if the Sox did decline the option).
Beyond his success on the field, Hendriks is also a widely popular player, beloved by teammates and fans alike. Today’s news has already started an outpouring of support for Hendriks on social media, and we at MLB Trade Rumors join the rest of the baseball world in wishing him a full recovery.
Hahn’s statement provided some rough idea of a timeline for how long Hendriks might be sidelined, though obviously the situation is very fluid. Pitching is naturally just about the last thing on Hendriks’ mind at the moment, and for the White Sox as well, simply getting their friend and teammate healthy is infinitely more important than roster impact.
There is no easy way to replace Hendriks in Chicago’s bullpen, as while Kendall Graveman is probably the likeliest candidate to step in as closer, bumping everyone up the depth chart leaves the White Sox relief corps thinner as a whole. There had been some trade buzz surrounding Hendriks earlier this winter, as the Mets and other teams had interest in adding a high-end reliever, and there was some thought that the White Sox could move Hendriks (and his contract) as a way to address other roster needs without expanding the budget.
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