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.
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.