The White Sox’ acquisition of Lynn this past winter has turned out to be a rousing success. Last December 8th, Chicago sent right-hander Dane Dunning and lefty Avery Weems to the Rangers in exchange for Lynn, who was scheduled to hit free agency after this season. Dunning has been the kind of rotation presence the Rangers hoped, but the White Sox valued Lynn’s veteran presence and consistency enough to surrender more than five years of control over Dunning.
The 34-year-old has found a home in Chicago, where he’ll now stay through at least the 2023 season. After making $9.33MM this year in the final season of the three-year, $30MM deal he signed with Texas prior to 2019, Lynn will make $18.5MM in each of the next two seasons.
The White Sox hold an $18MM option for 2024 that includes a $1MM buyout, per MLB.com’s Scott Merkin (via Twitter). There are bonuses, as well, should Lynn finish in the top-3 for Cy Young voting, adds MLB Networks Jon Heyman (via Twitter). Though Lynn has never been a top-3 finisher for the award, he has finished in the top-6 in each of the past two seasons.
Lynn had emerged as a frontline pitcher for the Rangers, but he’s been next level on the South Side with a 1.99 ERA/3.20 FIP in 16 starts covering 90 2/3 innings. He was named an All-Star for just the second time in his career.
His 94 mph heater is where its been the past couple of seasons, though he’s dropped its usage from around 50 percent to 43.1 percent. The cutter has picked up the slack, going from 22.2 percent usage last year to 32.2 percent this season. Interestingly, Lynn sticks almost entirely to the fastball, cutter, sinker mix, only rarely turning to a change-up or more traditional curve.
In his youth, he threw a more traditional slider or curve, but the cutter has taken over as a go-to put away pitch. Opponents are hitting just .183 with a .295 xSLG against his 88.5 mph cutter. In terms of the bottom line results, however, Lynn has been just about the same guy in Chicago that he was in Texas: he pounds the zone (44.1 Zone%), plays to contact with a below-average 26.5 CSW%, all while coaxing batters to swing the bat (72.7 Z-Swing%, 49.4 Swing% — both marks being above-average), despite just an average ability to get batters to chase outside the zone (30.9 O-Swing%.
Securing Lynn keeps another member of Chicago’s impressive core in place. Carlos Rodon is the only member of the rotation not currently signed through next season. The White Sox control Dallas Keuchel and Lucas Giolito through 2023 and Dylan Cease through 2025. No matter what happens with Rodon now, the White Sox should feel secure about their rotation moving into next season.
The White Sox have been proactive about signing their young core to extensions. Yoan Moncada is under contract through 2024, Eloy Jimenez and Aaron Bummer through 2026, and Luis Robert through 2027. Free agent signings Liam Hendriks and Yasmani Grandal also have contracts that run through 2024 and 2023, respectively. Other young talents like Nick Madrigal, Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech and Codi Heuer have yet to even begin the arbitration process. Securing Lynn, however, was arguably the most important item on GM Rick Hahn’s agenda.