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Cishek, White Sox agree to 1-year deal

Right-hander knows role: 'Get three outs, any inning'
@scottmerkin
January 15, 2020

CHICAGO -- Somewhere around five minutes after the Nationals brought the 2019 World Series to a close, the White Sox contacted Steve Cishek’s agent with interest in the side-arming right-handed reliever. Cishek shared that story Wednesday during a conference call to discuss his free-agent move to the South Side. The

CHICAGO -- Somewhere around five minutes after the Nationals brought the 2019 World Series to a close, the White Sox contacted Steve Cishek’s agent with interest in the side-arming right-handed reliever.

Cishek shared that story Wednesday during a conference call to discuss his free-agent move to the South Side. The reliever agreed to a one-year deal with a club option for 2021 on Tuesday, with right-hander Dylan Covey being designated for assignment to make room on Chicago’s 40-man roster.

“When you get a call that soon, you know the team is up to something,” Cishek said. “Then of course with what they did this offseason, it made signing here very intriguing. When they expressed interest in making an offer, I was all ears. I was ready to go. I'm just glad it worked out.”

Cishek will make a guaranteed $6 million on the deal. He'll earn $5.25 million in 2020, and his club option for 2021 is worth $6.75 million with a $750,000 buyout if the White Sox don’t pick it up. He has made 150 appearances over his last two seasons with the Cubs, with his 80 games pitched in 2018 and his 70 in ’19 marking the most appearances of his decade-long career.

But the workload hasn’t seemed to bother the 33-year-old. Over 261 games and 243 innings since 2016, Cishek has posted a 2.52 ERA. He finished with a 2.95 ERA, seven saves and 57 strikeouts over 64 innings last season.

Alex Colomé, Aaron Bummer, Jace Fry, Evan Marshall, Kelvin Herrera and Jimmy Cordero return to join Cishek in the White Sox bullpen, with Zack Burdi healthy and on his way back from both Tommy John and right knee surgery. Colomé finished 30-for-33 in save opportunities last season, and Cishek set up for him in 2017 after being traded to the Rays, so he’s accustomed to that role.

Colomé starts the season as closer once again, but White Sox manager Rick Renteria has several solid late-inning and ninth-inning options.

“I am fortunate enough now that we have guys that have all been at the back end of a ballgame and have had success in that particular role,” Renteria said. “I've got flexibility now and strength and hopefully having guys being able to take advantage of high-leverage situations.

“If I use a guy two, three, four days, it's nice to have another guy I can probably slot in there to be able to do things like that. I have a little bit more flexibility right now.”

The White Sox job description should be similar to what Cishek did so well for the Cubs.

“Get three outs, any inning, when necessary,” Cishek said. “Bummer was the eighth-inning guy last year. I’d love just to be one of the guys that passes the baton to the next guy down the line and get the ball to Colomé. When he has the ball, that means we’re in a good situation to win the ballgame. That’s all I’m concerned with.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.