Could the SF Giants look to move Oakland Athletics free-agent closer, Liam Hendriks, across the Bay into the back of their bullpen?
Last season, the SF Giants roster was filled with players who had breakout seasons. With the unexpected offensive success of players like Brandon Belt and pitching performances from players like Kevin Gausman, one would think it would be enough to push the team to the postseason, but that just wasn’t the case due to one glaring weakness – the bullpen.
Luckily, in this year’s free-agent class there are plenty of options that would provide plenty of help to a bullpen in dire need of an upgrade. One of those free agents that would make sense for the Giants to pursue is Liam Hendriks, who has spent his last five seasons just across the Bay in Oakland.
The 31-year-old right-hander would immediately be their best option to close out games. After all, he converted 39 of his 47 save attempts over the past two seasons. Last season alone, the Giants blew five saves in the ninth inning. Had they converted those opportunities, they would’ve easily reached the playoffs.
Hendriks is effective at getting both lefties and righties out. A huge boon with the three-batter minimum. Last season, he had a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings of work against lefties, while striking out 19 and walking only two, with one lone homer. With righties at the plate, he was even better as he had a solid 1.72 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched, with no home runs. He fanned 18 and walked just one that led him to a WHIP of 0.51 against right-handed batters.
Sure, the Giants will need improvements from the rest of their arms to bolster a less-than-impressive bullpen, but Hendriks would be someone that could give them one sure thing in the ninth inning. With the team likely to get power right-hander Reyes Moronta back at some point next season, a pairing of those two in the back of the bullpen would certainly give the team some more hope when it comes to locking down games.
Even though these are great reasons to sign him, there could still be reasons that the team could hold off on doing so. The biggest of them all is that he is on the other side of 30, which does not help his case in today’s analytics-driven game. Another factor is that he’s only been a closer for less than two seasons. The lack of experience could come back to haunt him since hasn’t even shut down 100 games in his career.
Most concerning given his age, Hendriks has a bit of history with minor lower-body injuries that could get worse as he ages. Given a substantial guaranteed contract is probably coming his way, the front-office could get nervous about that history.
This offseason is the best opportunity to set the SF Giants up for a postseason run next season. Given the bullpen’s inconsistencies all year, a dominant closer like Liam Hendricks should be at the top of the front office’s wish list. Now, the only question is will they be willing to spend the money to add the former Oakland Athletics closer.