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Making a case for Trevor Rosenthal

The profile of Liam Hendriks, at a fraction of the cost? Jerry Reinsdorf, take note

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox
Trevor Rosenthal of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches for a save in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on July 22, 2015. The Cardinals defeated the White Sox, 3-2.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the White Sox rumored to be in the chase for coveted free-agent reliever Liam Hendriks, the Pale Hose should go after Trevor Rosenthal instead. I don’t have any negative thoughts about a potential Hendriks signing, but Rosenthal offers many of the same attributes — and should come at a fraction of the cost and without the need to commit to an excessively-long contract.

Rosenthal pitched extremely well last season for the both the Kansas City Royals and the San Diego Padres. His combined line saw him notch 11 saves with a 1.90 ERA, while allowing 12 hits in 23 23 innings. His strikeout rate was a stellar 14.5/9 IP. Although he has occasionally battled control demons during his eight-year MLB tenure, Rosenthal’s biggest struggles came in 2019 when he walked 26 hitters in only 15 13 innings. This is forgivable considering it was his first season back from Tommy John surgery, and although his velocity had rebounded, control and command are often the last attributes to return after the procedure. If you eliminate the 2019 campaign from his career pitching line, Rosenthal’s career walk rate stands at 3.73/9 IP. Although certainly less than ideal, it is at least partially offset by a 7.5 hits/9 IP.

On the positive side, Rosenthal made only $100,000 last season for the Royals and due to his sometimes-evasive control will require a contract that pales in comparison to the one that Hendriks will receive. Rosenthal is also a year-and-a-half younger than Hendriks, who has carried the burden of an extensive workload the past two seasons with the Athletics. Hendriks will also not be the beneficiary of the pitching-friendly environs of the Coliseum. To be taken with a grain of salt due to small sample size bias, Hendriks has been battered at Guaranteed Rate Field, to the tune of a 9.20 ERA (24 hits and four home runs in only 10 23 innings).

With a career K rate of 12.1/9 IP and an average fastball velocity of 98 mph, Rosenthal would help bolster the bullpen at a reasonable cost, which would theoretically afford Jerry Reinsdorf and company to pursue the other Trevor … Bauer, to assist in bringing home a championship.

OK, Mr. Hahn, let’s get this done.