Mets Showing Business Interest with Liam Hendriks

The Mets are among the clubs that have come into contact with the White Sox. Liam HendriksReports Michael Mayer of Metsmerized (twitter link). A few weeks ago, reports surfaced that Chicago was discussing their stars more closely with other teams, but the identity of these clubs was unclear.

Of course, the Mets aren’t the only team interested in getting Hendriks out of Chicago. The 33-year-old is one of the sport’s best late game guns. Hendriks debuted with A’s, scoring 85 frames with a 1.80 ERA to secure his first All-Star pick in 2019. If there was a Midsummer Classic in 2020, it would certainly have earned another one as he finished ninth in the shortened season AL Cy Young voting by 25 1/3 squares by 1.78 points.

After that season, the right-handed player moved to Chicago. The Hendriks signed a $54 million guarantee with the White Sox, and Chicago gambled that he would retain his late-career debut form. He did just that, posting a 2.66 ERA over 127 frames with the Sox. After posting a 2.54 ERA in the first year, he scored 2.81 in 57 2/3 innings last season. Hendriks won All-Star selections in both seasons, outperforming 36.2% of the hitters he faced in 2022. It looks no worse in terms of wear, sitting north of 97 MPH in the warmer in the second half, outpacing its rivals 35.4%.

Any competitor seeking Bullpen assistance can speak to Chicago general manager Rick Hahn. Hendriks will be an effective addition to late kicks for any club and the Mets are no exception. New York has one of a handful of sidekicks who could be better than Hendriks to take the ninth inning after re-signing. Edwin Diaz to a five-year free agency contract. have come to an agreement with Adam Ottavino on a two-year deal this afternoon and they brought david robertson from outside the organization. The Mets don’t need any more support, but they’re not afraid to pursue top talent no matter the cost.

This was reflected in the astronomical spending MLB had never seen before. New York has a 2023 player payroll estimated at around $351 million by Roster Resource. Luxury tax figures are around $363 million, $130 million higher than next year’s base tax threshold. That ranks them for an estimated tax bill of $92.4 million, which would make their total player spending roughly $443.4 million.

Additional purchases will clearly add to this figure. Hendriks has a $14 million guarantee in 2023 and a $15 million club option on his contract for the ’24 season. This comes with a matching purchase of $15 million, which will be distributed in installments of $1.5 million through 2033. If he stays off the field for most or all of the 2024 season, or if his performance drops so dramatically, his place in the roster is in jeopardy.

If Hendriks is traded, this option wins. Hendriks would be guaranteed $29 million over the next two seasons. Matt Gelb of Athletic previously reported that under the new CBA, players traded on multi-year contracts for luxury tax purposes are seeing a recalculation of the average annual value of their deals during the trade. In Hendriks’ case, it would be pegged at $29 million over two years – a $14.5 million AAV for an acquisition team. If not traded, his deal would count as $18 million against the White Sox’s tax book for 2023, as technically there was a three-year, $54 million guarantee at signing.

For the Mets, receiving a $14.5 million AAV would come with an additional $13.05 million in taxes, as they are taxed at 90% on all future expenses. Going over $27 million a year in real money for a sidekick is something that almost no team will ever do, but it seems New York can’t be counted out of any action at this point.

Of course, there is no indication that the Mets and White Sox are making much or any progress. Up to this point, the exercise is mostly theoretical. New York will face lots of competition if the Sox commit to carrying Hendriks, who is better than any current free agent. Chicago can definitely choose to stick with it completely as they try to rebound from an 81-81 win to compete in AL Central. The White Sox accepted the deal Andrew Benintendi on a five-year, $75 million deal last week. If their salaries are evenly distributed, that brings the projected payroll to $193 million, which is in line with last season’s franchise record.

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