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Steve Cishek signs with Chisox on the South Side

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One year, $6 million, with an option to double those terms, brings an experienced and steady arm to the right side of Chicago

Chicago White Sox v Seattle Mariners
Closing time: An experienced bullpen hand — a submariner, even — joins the South Side relief corps.
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Having patched other glaring weaknesses on the roster with a robust offseason that has perked the fan base right back up, on Tuesday GM Rick Hahn added a finishing touch — in January — by inking veteran relief hand Steve Cishek to a one-year, $6 million deal.

Per Passan, the deal can be doubled to two years, $12 million, but it’s unclear whether the second-year option is the team’s, Cishek’s, or mutual.

The lanky (6´6´´, 215) righthander now enters his 11th MLB season as a member of the White Sox. He was drafted in 2007’s fifth round by the Florida Marlins, and debuted for the team at the end of the 2010 season. After the Marlins, Cishek went on to play for St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and the Cubs.

Cishek is a sidearmer/submariner who answers to the nickname “Speedpass.” His list of closest career comps on Baseball-Reference reads like a list of honorees in the Hall of Very Good, including Todd Worrell, Tom Henke, Kent Tekulve, Joakim Soria, Sergio Romo, Jeff Montgomery, Heath Bell, Mark Melancon.

While his season FIPs have been far shakier, Cishek has suffered just one campaign with an ERA of higher than 3.17 — and even that 2015 season was plenty fine (3.58). So Chicago has acquired in Cishek an experienced hand who simply doesn’t slump for extended periods, which isn’t exactly the modus operandi of many relief pitchers.

Presumably, Cishek enters 2020 as the primary right-handed setup man to Alex Colomé, but the White Sox have just purchased some insurance in case an Attack of the Foreboding Peripherals induce a Colomé meltdown. Cishek has spent three seasons as a primary closer (2013, 2014, 2016) and compiled 98 saves in those three years (career saves: 132, 105th all-time and 17th among active pitchers).

Cishek’s only drawback, to the untrained eye, lies in a bit of wildness. But in his last two seasons, on the North Side, the righty has been pure filth: 150 games, 134 ⅓ innings, 93 hits, 135 strikeouts, 57 walks, 2.55 ERA, 11 saves. Last year with the Cubs, Cishek was 4-6 with a 2.95 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 70 games (23 finished, seven saves), 64 innings, and 1.203 WHIP.

Statistical deep dives on how to rid a player of Cubbie stink are in their infancy, so there is no reasonable projection of how the 33-year-old will shake off his two years at Wrigley.