The Dodgers need a closer, and Liam Hendriks should be their guy.
If the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ World Series run exposed one deficiency, it’s that they don’t have a reliable back end of the bullpen. Julio Urias closed out the Game 6 clincher and Kenley Jansen was largely nowhere to be found, with that epic meltdown in Game 4 being mostly what he’s remembered for.
Though Andrew Friedman has made a couple of shrewd additions in Corey Knebel and Brandon Morrow, work still needs to be done. Those guys, while they possess the potential to get the job done in the later innings, should only be viewed as depth pieces. Plus, they’ll both be free agents after 2021.
According to ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan, the Dodgers are among the teams — along with the Astros, Mets and Blue Jays — reportedly “in” on Hendriks, though we’ve also heard LA linked to Brad Hand, who’s another high-profile option.
Hendriks, projected by Jim Bowden of The Athletic to land a three-year, $42 million contract, would be the better choice, however. He’s really hit his stride the last two seasons and one could argue he’s in his prime despite the fact he’s entering his age-32 campaign.
Across 10 MLB seasons, Hendriks has averaged just 51.2 innings per year, which is hardly significant mileage. It’s not very often you see a four-pitch closer, either. Hendriks sports a blazing fastball (that averages 96 MPH) in addition to a slider, curveball and changeup (though he rarely uses it).
Still, this is the stabilization move the Dodgers might need to make to get their bullpen back to where it used to be. And if they’re concerned about money in regard to the luxury tax, taking the hit in 2021 would be worth it because the payroll will see nearly $80 million come off the books after next season, though Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager will have to be retained.
Either way, there’s significant money ready to be spent and Jansen will be gone, leaving a clear void for Hendriks to fill. Spend now, save later.