'I like to win': White Sox acquire veteran Lynn

December 9th, 2020

CHICAGO -- The White Sox addition of via trade from the Rangers, which was officially announced on Tuesday, adds depth, talent and reliability to the team’s starting rotation.

But the move of right-hander Dane Dunning, formerly the White Sox No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and Minor League left-hander Avery Weems for only one guaranteed year of Lynn reinforces another point about the organization. After reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008 following an extended rebuild, the White Sox are thinking World Series or bust as soon as the 2021 season.

White Sox get: RHP Lance Lynn
Rangers get: RHP Dane Dunning, LHP Avery Weems

“I don’t think we need to hang any signs on the side of 35th Street, but it’s pretty clear what our intentions are at this time,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn during a Tuesday evening Zoom call. “We feel the window is open, and we are now going to be aggressive in our efforts to try to put us in our best position to win championships.

“We want to keep that open as long as possible, so we don’t intend to do anything reckless or too detrimental to our long-term health. At the same time, we know the chances to win are rare and need to be properly serviced to increase those chances as much as possible.”

Dunning, who turns 26 on Dec. 20, posted a 2-0 record with a 3.97 ERA over seven regular-season starts in his 2020 Major League debut. He struck out 35 and walked 13 over 34 innings, but he also started a deciding Game 3 for the White Sox in the American League Wild Card Series and worked just two-thirds of an inning in Oakland.

Nine pitchers combined to walk nine in the White Sox season-ending loss, pointing to a need for a veteran presence such as Lynn in front of other young pitchers including Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo López. So Chicago traded Dunning to Texas four years and one day after it acquired him from the Nationals with López and Lucas Giolito for right fielder Adam Eaton at the rebuild’s outset. (Coincidentally, Eaton is back with the Sox on a one-year deal, per a source.)

It’s another full-circle example of the organization’s change. The White Sox are now acquiring premium veteran players such as Lynn, whom they had been trading for multiple high-end prospects to strengthen their youthful core and eventually get to this point.

“We are now in that stage, perhaps the most exciting stage, of being ready to contend for championships,” Hahn said. “You have to give up something to get something.”

“When you saw what this team was able to do and you've seen it coming, to be a part of it, it's exciting,” said Lynn on Tuesday. “I like to win, and I'm looking forward to having that opportunity. I'm looking forward to this opportunity.”

Lynn, 33, drew interest from the White Sox at the 2020 Trade Deadline, and now the veteran right-hander provides a solid third option in Chicago's starting rotation with Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. Over 13 starts and 84 innings pitched last season, Lynn produced a 6-3 record with a 3.32 ERA and fanned 89 against 25 walks. Lynn struck out 246 over 208 1/3 innings in 2019 and has topped 200 innings three times in his nine-year career.

Tony La Russa, the new White Sox manager starting his second tenure on the South Side, had Lynn for 18 games in his final season as Cardinals manager in 2011, Lynn's rookie season. Lynn is scheduled to earn $9.3 million in the final year of a three-year deal he signed with the Rangers in December 2018.

Over two seasons with the Rangers, Lynn went 22-14 with a 3.57 ERA and 335 strikeouts over 46 starts and 292 1/3 innings. During that span, Lynn led all Major League pitchers in innings pitched, tied for first in starts and ranked among the leaders in bWAR (second, 9.8), quality starts (tied for fourth, 30), wins (tied for fifth) and strikeouts (tied for fifth). Lynn finished sixth in the 2020 American League Cy Young voting and fifth in '19. In his career, he is 104-71 with a 3.57 ERA over 1,426 2/3 innings, including 1,415 strikeouts against 529 walks.

Lynn's presence also means pressure will be taken off the younger starters now situated at the back of the rotation. But he also gives the White Sox a starting trio to stack up against any team during the regular season and in the postseason, which is Chicago's ultimate destination.

“Again, the price was not an easy one to pay,” said Hahn, who still could look to add another starter and bullpen help, including a closer. “But to acquire [a] guy like this was a rare opportunity and one that we feel serves us very well.”

“I'm looking forward to getting to Spring Training and getting after this thing,” Lynn said. “Right now, I'm on pace to be ready for a normal Spring Training and do everything I can to be prepared to throw 200 innings in 33, 34 starts and on into the playoffs, because that's why they got me.”