Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the right-hander, who turns 32 in February.
Report: Astros focused on landing Hendriks
Jan. 8: According to Robert Murray of FanSided, the Astros are the “most aggressive” club in pursuit of high-leverage relievers. Houston lost Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski to free agency and was middle-of-the-pack with a 4.39 bullpen ERA last year. Murray adds that after missing on Blake Treinen, who signed with the Dodgers, the Astros continue to focus on Hendriks, considered the top reliever on the market, and have shown interest in left-hander Brad Hand as well as right-hander Alex Colomé. Based on Houston’s bullpen focus, as Murray notes, it seems the club is trying to create a much stronger relief corps to somewhat offset the pressure on a rotation that will be without Justin Verlander for most or all of the 2021 campaign as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
How does Dodgers’ Treinen signing affect Hendriks?
Jan. 6: Blake Treinen re-signed with the Dodgers Tuesday, taking another reliever off the board this offseason. The Dodgers were previously reported to be in on Hendriks, and likely still would be even after the signing, given that Treinen played a setup role in Los Angeles in 2020. The two were teammates on the A’s from 2017-19. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports that the Astros were one of the teams in on Treinen before he signed, and likely were trying to target the duo of both him and Hendriks. That means the Astros may still try to sign Hendriks — and also indicates that teams had thought of uniting the two relievers on the same team yet again, which could still happen in Los Angeles.
Hendriks drawing interest from Blue Jays, White Sox, Dodgers
Jan. 4: Hendriks was scheduled to visit the Blue Jays’ complex in Dunedin, Fla., on Monday, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Toronto isn’t the only AL contender with interest in the free-agent reliever, however, as Feinsand hears the White Sox are serious about him as well.
Liam Hendriks is visiting the Blue Jays complex today in Dunedin, Fla., source confirms @ShiDavidi report. The reliever is meeting with Jays president/CEO Mark Shapiro. Toronto is among teams in the mix for Hendriks, though the White Sox are believed to be serious about him, too.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 4, 2021
Meanwhile, FanSided’s Robert Murray reports that the Dodgers also have strong interest in Hendriks, though there are no signs the right-hander is close to a deal.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 4, 2021
Hendriks had two stints with the Blue Jays in 2014 and ’15. His first ended when he was traded to the Royals for Danny Valencia in July 2014. Toronto re-acquired him that offseason before dealing him again a year later, this time to the A’s for Jesse Chavez in November 2015 — less than a month after Mark Shapiro took over as Blue Jays president and just a couple weeks before Ross Atkins was named the team’s general manager.
Ken Giles, Toronto’s Opening Day closer, and Anthony Bass, the team’s saves leader in 2020, are free agents, as is A.J. Cole, leaving the Blue Jays in need of additional help in the bullpen.
The White Sox, meanwhile, need a replacement for free-agent closer Alex Colomé, and the Dodgers may be searching for a more reliable ninth-inning option after moving away from Kenley Jansen during the 2020 postseason.
Hendriks blossomed into one of the game’s best relievers over the past two seasons, posting a 1.79 ERA with a 0.90 WHIP and 39 saves for Oakland. The 31-year-old has familial ties to Canada, as his wife, Kristi, is from Montreal.
Could Hendriks stay in AL West?
Dec. 26: MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince sums up the best fits for each remaining free agent from the top 25, doling out only one free agent per team. For Hendriks, he highlights the Astros as a great fit. The Phillies have the biggest bullpen needs in the Majors, but will need to spread their money around on multiple pitchers. The Astros, on the other hand, could be in a great spot simply by adding an impact arm like Hendriks to the young relievers who pitched for them in 2020 and Ryan Pressly.
Hendriks would fit with WS champs
Dec. 24: How could the World Series champion Dodgers get even better? By signing the best closer on the free-agent market.
Former general manager Jim Bowden writes for The Athletic (subscription required) that Los Angeles is the best fit for Hendriks.
“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,” Bowden argues.
Adding Hendriks to an already star-studded roster would certainly make the Dodgers a strong contender to defend their title. He also wouldn’t be the first A’s closer to join the LA bullpen — Blake Treinen played a key late-inning role for the Dodgers on their 2020 World Series run.
Report: White Sox emerge as Hendriks’ ‘primary suitor’
Dec. 14: A large group of teams are at least checking in on Hendriks as this offseason’s top reliever, ESPN’s Jeff Passan writes in his Monday column (subscription required), but the White Sox appear to be Hendriks’ “primary suitor.” Chicago has a hole to fill at closer with Alex Colomé also a free agent, and many expect the South Siders to address their bullpen next after trading for starter Lance Lynn and signing free-agent outfielder Adam Eaton.
But the White Sox are far from alone in the Hendriks derby. Passan lists the Dodgers, Astros, Mets and Blue Jays as other clubs that have thrown their hats in the ring so far, and notes that the Phillies could also enter the sweepstakes after a horrid showing by their bullpen in 2002.
Sources: Giants, Phillies among suitors for Hendriks
Dec. 4: The Phillies and Giants are among the teams showing interest in Hendriks, sources told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.
Philadelphia had MLB’s highest bullpen ERA in 2020, recording a 7.06 mark. San Francisco was better, posting a 4.24 bullpen ERA, but the club had trouble finding a reliable closer. Trevor Gott, Tyler Rogers and Sam Coonrod combined for 10 of the team’s 13 saves but had a collective 7.12 ERA with seven blown saves.
According to Morosi, the Giants are also showing interest in free agents Brad Hand and Archie Bradley, and the Phillies “have inquired on virtually every notable free-agent reliever.”
Do Phillies need Hendriks more than Realmuto?
Nov. 22: The Phillies’ bullpen was a mess in 2020, posting the highest ERA (7.06) in MLB and contributing to the team’s 28-32 record. Philadelphia ended up missing the postseason by a single game and is now in danger of losing star catcher J.T. Realmuto to free agency.
Re-signing Realmuto is believed to be one of the team’s top priorities, but it can be argued that the team should place more emphasis on Hendriks.
Count MLB Network’s Ron Darling among those who think the Phillies should make the closer their No. 1 target this offseason.
“Liam Hendriks I think would really serve them well,” Darling said. “… He’s got a lot of grit and determination to go along with that talent, and I think he’d bring that fieriness to that Philadelphia bullpen. Push everyone down a notch and make them instantly better than they were all last year.”
The Phillies’ projected payroll is currently around $130 million, giving the team some wiggle room. It’s certainly possible Philadelphia could come away with both players, but it’s more likely that it will have to choose one.