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Dodgers: MLB Insider Calls Liam Hendriks LA’s Top Free Agent Fit



Ok, so I will open this by noting that the insider who made this statement is the same one that predicted Nolan Arenado would be a Dodger by Christmas. So do with that what you will. Still, while former MLB GM Jim Bowden may have been swinging wildly on that Arenado headline, this next one is much more grounded.

Bowden took to task identifying the top free agent fits for each of the 30 MLB teams. In the case of the Dodgers, he hit the nail on the head. For The Athletic, Bowden looked at former A’s closer Liam Hendriks as the closer of the future for LA.

The time has come for the Dodgers to officially have Kenley Jansen pass the torch to the next closer — and instead of passing it in-house, it makes more sense for them to go out and ink arguably the best closer in the sport right now in Hendriks. That would allow Jansen, Brusdar Graterol and Víctor González to take care of the 6th through 8th innings.

Recently, we made a similar argument on our Blue Heaven podcast. Kenley Jansen is heading into the final year of the 5-year contract he signed after the 2016 season. By the end of 2021, he’ll be 34 and his best seasons will be long behind him. While Kenley has meant so much for the organization over the years, it may truly be time for the two sides to part ways — particularly if he demands keeping the closer’s role. 

With Liam Hendriks, the Dodgers would add a power arm to the backend of the bullpen who, despite being 32 in February, has been trending upwards over the last few seasons. Moreover, Hendricks would likely be less inclined to demand the closer role, opening up opportunities for in-house closer of the future Brusdar Graterol.

Looking Ahead

As the Dodgers look to repeat as World Series champs in 2021, the bullpen is once again a source of concern. Workhorse reliever Blake Treinen is a free agent. Pedro Baez as well. So far this offseason, the team has been busy in adding late-game options for next season. But, those options are imperfect at best.

Corey Knebel is looking to return to form after Tommy John surgery. Brandon Morrow hasn’t really pitched since leaving Los Angeles after the 2017 season. Tommy Kahnle is coming off elbow surgery of his own and likely won’t be ready until 2022.

When looking ahead at next year’s current mix in the bullpen — Kenley, Knebel, Joe Kelly, Graterol, Dylan Floro, plus lefties Victor González and Adam Kolarek — something seems to be missing. That something could be Liam Hendriks. 

NEXT: What Tommy Kahnle Means for the Future of the LA Bullpen

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

Comments

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  1. I just deleted a whole comment about Bowden’s article because it’s Christmas. So just let me say that Clint, you have graduated to a level where I would like to read more of your opinions, based on your research, and not rely on such unreliable sources. You da man! Be da man!

  2. Kahnle, possibly Knebel, Graterol, Ferguson, Gonsolin, Gonzalez, Gray, Carrillo, Pepiot, Beeter, Miller, etc. can be closer in 2020, signing Hendriks to a big contract is not necessary.

    • Kahnle and Ferguson both had Tommy John surgery in 2020 and will miss all of 1021, They will be placed on the 60-day IL during spring training and free up 2 more 40 man roster spots.

  3. Money and projections of baseball season disruption and a shortened season in 2021 and a possible strike in 2022 make signing long term contracts a gamble. Most teams are being hesitant because baseball is a business.
    I do not believe the Dodgers will sign another reliever to a long term deal. They signed Jansen for 5 years and Kelly to a 3 year and look at how those have turned out!
    The best recipe is to find guys that have had issues sign them for 1 or two-year deals and let your coaching and medical staff revive them! It’s a reasonable gamble they can rejuvenate Knebel, Morrow, Nelson, Stewart, etc.

  4. I’ll go easy on Bowden because he had to pick something and closer was the easiest. I think Friedman goes with what he has – though possibly adding Hand – and deals with any addition needed at the deadline.

  5. I think that various pitchers in the LA organization could serve as closer, at least on occasion, the Dodgers did very well in having Jansen be that person for the first 2-3 years of that contract. Hendricks may not be that person for 5 years, but could be for 2-3 years. I suggest signing him for 3 years, have him start as closer, and then “demote” him as his effectiveness deteriorates. By doing this, it takes a lot of pressure off the rest of the relief staff, particularly Jansen. Graterol is not ready to assume that role–and may not be for the next 1-2 years.

  6. For once I agree with Bowden. The Dodgers need a shutdown closer. Jansen is toast. Graterol isn’t there yet.
    Hendriks would be a perfect fit. If we don’t get a proven shutdown closer, we will be giving away postseason games that would otherwise be in the win column like game 4 of the WS just completed. If we don’t get a shut down closer we will just be rolling the dice and gambling away wins. Friedman needs to decide how much he wants back to back championships. Do we want to be fully loaded and in a dominant position to win, or do we want to keep gambling away wins in the ninth inning?

  7. This article is the only one I see about Hendriks that is not 2 or 3 weeks old, so here I am. I think if all of the reports are true, or at least most. then Hendricks is going to get 4 years at $13-15M per. That’s hefty for a 32-year old reliever, who is terrific, but 4 years is just too long. I’d give him the AAV; I just only want 2 years, maaaybe 3…but I’m afraid the bidding will drive it up to 4 and that’s too rich for my blood. (Note that I’m saying for ANY team, not just the Dodgers)

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