CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox have agreed to terms on a one-year, $6-million contract with right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, which includes a club option for 2021. Under terms of the agreement, Cishek will receive $5.25 million in 2020, while the White Sox hold a $6.75-million option for 2021 with a $750,000 buyout.
Cishek, 33, went 4-6 with a 2.95 ERA (21 ER/64.0 IP), seven saves, 12 holds, a .210 opponents average (48-229), just seven home runs allowed and 57 strikeouts over 70 relief appearances with the Cubs in 2019. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Cishek limited right-handers to a .206 average (29-141) and lefties to a .216 mark (19-88), and his 25.3 soft contact percentage was the sixth-best among major-league relievers. He posted a 0.66 ERA (1 ER/13.2 IP) over his final 16 appearances of the season, holding the opposition scoreless in 15 games. Cishek also made 18 scoreless outings in a span of 19 appearances from April 5-May 22 (3 ER/21.1 IP).
“We believe Steve is a solid addition to our bullpen,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “He complements our other relievers well, provides a different look to opposing hitters later in games, and has consistently proven to be both durable and successful throughout his career.”
A native of Falmouth, Mass., Cishek made a career-high 80 appearances for the Cubs in 2018 and posted a 2.18 ERA (17 ER/70.1 IP), the second-lowest of his career. He recorded a career-low 2.01 mark (10 ER/44.2 IP) between Seattle and Tampa Bay in 2017. Cishek has limited right-handers to a .199 career average (232-1,165) with just 17 home runs, and opponents are hitting just .200 with RISP (98-491) lifetime.
Cishek ranks among major-league relief leaders since 2011 in appearances (6th, 569), wins (T8th, 32), strikeouts (9th, 581) and ERA (13th, 2.71). His 150 appearances since 2018 are the third-most in baseball, and his 2.69 career ERA is fifth-lowest among active pitchers with 500.0-plus relief outings. Cishek has made 60-plus relief appearances six times and recorded 25-plus saves three times (career-high 39 in 2014).
Cishek is 32-27 with a 2.69 ERA (166 ER/556.0 IP), 132 saves, 84 holds, .212 opponents average and 584 strikeouts in 572 career appearances over 10 seasons with Florida/Miami (2010-15), St. Louis (2015), Seattle (2016-17), Tampa Bay (2017) and the Cubs (2018-19). He originally was selected by the Marlins in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Carson-Newman (Tenn.) College.
To make room for Cishek on the 40-man roster, the White Sox designated right-handed pitcher Dylan Covey for assignment. The Sox 40-man roster remains at 40.