CHICAGO -- Lance Lynn first met White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf during this past Spring Training in Arizona, and the initial message received from Reinsdorf let the big right-hander know almost immediately the South Side was going to be a great fit.
“The first thing he said was, ‘I'm looking to win another championship,’ and that's what I'm all about, trying to do everything I can to win,” said Lynn during a Saturday afternoon Zoom call to announce his contract extension with the White Sox. “So I'm here to help try to do that.”
Lynn, who would have been a free agent after the ’21 season and is currently pitching on a three-year, $30 million deal agreed upon with the Rangers, will be lending his assistance in Chicago for the foreseeable future. Under terms of his two-year, $38 million extension, Lynn earns $18.5 million in both 2022 and 2023, with the White Sox holding an $18 million option for 2024 with a $1 million buyout.
The White Sox acquired Lynn, 34, in a trade on Dec. 8, 2020, sending a controlled young talent in right-hander Dane Dunning to Texas. It’s the sort of trade made by a prime title contender such as the White Sox, adding the innings, excellence on the mound and clubhouse leadership of a veteran, even if it was just for one year in the rotation.
But that fit, not to mention Lynn’s 9-3 record with a 1.99 ERA over 16 starts during the season’s first half, made both sides want to get a deal done well before he hit the open market.
“It’s nice not to worry about free agency and know where you are going to be, but also knowing this is where you want to be and this is the group you want to be with to try to achieve something,” Lynn said. “Day in and day out, you see how they go about it, you see what they’ve built. You see how they built from the ground up, whether it’s international, whether it’s the Draft, whether it’s free agency or trades.
“They put together a winner here. And that’s what I want to be a part of and help push over the top and get a championship.”
Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Lynn ranks in the Top 5 among American League pitchers in 11 separate categories. That list includes 31 wins, 383 innings pitched and 62 starts. He has a 3.20 ERA over that span.
Lynn will enter his next start with a 1.99 ERA, which is the lowest mark by a White Sox hurler in the first half since Wilbur Wood’s 1.69 ERA in 1971. Lynn pitched for White Sox manager Tony La Russa as a rookie with the World Series champion Cardinals in 2011, and the duo should now be together beyond the current campaign.
“You don't know personal conversations,” Lynn said. “But I'm sure Tony had some definite say into making sure there's a chance I can stay around for a couple years.”
“He wasn’t forced to take that deal with the kind of year he’s having,” La Russa said. “I don’t know what the money is, but he certainly would be a pitcher that would be interesting to a lot of clubs. Evidently, he likes what he sees here and wants to be a part of it going forward.”
Extending Lynn contractually fortifies a White Sox rotation already featuring Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Dallas Keuchel for ’22 and possibly ’23. Carlos Rodón, a ‘21 AL Cy Young frontrunner like Lynn, will be a free agent after the current season but has also talked about enjoying pitching for the only organization he’s ever known.
This sort of decision becomes a part of sustaining the White Sox success. It also brought great excitement across the White Sox fanbase, which considers the highly quotable and colorful Lynn a perfect fit in the South Side.
“Since the day I got here in Spring Training, everything's felt like the perfect fit, even the guys in the clubhouse, the clubhouse staff and everybody,” said Lynn, who has a 113-74 career record with a 3.48 ERA and 1,520 strikeouts over 1,517 1/3 innings. “When I walked in today, everybody was really excited to have me around for the next couple years. So that's always a good feeling.”
“I don't think the contract now or later changes the way Lance looks at pitching that day,” La Russa said. “He wants to get the guys out. He's a competitor. What it does is, it sends the right message to the team that this guy has proven that he can help us this year and going forward.”