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White Sox exercise option on Craig Kimbrel, decline option on Cesar Hernandez

The White Sox might listen to trade offers for Kimbrel.

Craig Kimbrel of the White Sox pitches during Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 12, 2021. (Getty Images)

The White Sox exercised the $16-million club option on the contract of right-handed reliever Craig Kimbrel for next season and declined the $6-million club option on second baseman César Hernández.

Neither decision was unexpected. Both players were acquired in deals at the trade deadline and seemingly strengthened the Sox’ roster for a World Series push, but Kimbrel, an eight-time All-Star, posted a 5.09 ERA in 24 games largely in a setup role after pitching to a 0.49 ERA in 39 games with the Cubs this season in his more familiar closer’s role.

The Sox, who gave up a lot in second baseman Nick Madrigal and right-hander Codi Heuer in the trade with the Cubs, are likely listening to trade offers for Kimbrel, 33, who ranks ninth in major-league history with 372 saves, although their bullpen ranks are already thinning with Ryan Tepera becoming a free agent and Michael Kopech likely moving to the starting rotation.

Hernandez also did not pan out, hitting three homers and slugging only .299 after hitting 18 homers and slugging .431 for the Indians in the first half. The Sox traded pitching prospect Konnor Pilkington for Hernandez.

The White Sox 40-man roster decreases to 33.