Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers and Astros rivalry rekindled in negotiations for top free agent reliever

Liam Hendriks is available for the highest bidder, and a battle between the Astros and Dodgers might decide who gets a shiny new bullpen addition.

Both teams could use it, frankly. The Astros ‘pen was running on fumes at the end of last season, with Roberto Osuna undergoing Tommy John surgery. Adding Hendriks would be a great get for Houston, and perhaps offset some of their losses in the lineup with a tremendous pitching upgrade.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, have finally started to realize they can’t rely too heavily on Kenley Jansen at this point. Jansen had a nice un, but he is by no means the closer he once was. Hendriks has established himself as one of the best closers in all of baseball, with back-to-back seasons of a sub-2.00 ERA. In 2019, he finished with 25 saves. In a shortened 2020, he had 14 saves. Those are reliable numbers, and a large enough sample size to pay the man.

So, who will win the race for Hendriks?

On the surface, the Astros appear to need Hendriks more than the Dodgers do. LA still has several capable arms to make up for Jansen’s inefficiencies at this point in his career. Dustin May and Brusdar Graterol come to mind, along with several other pitching prospects still in the pipeline. The Dodgers would rather pay up at other positions.

However, the Dodgers and Astros alone aren’t the only two teams fighting for his services. The White Sox, Mets an Blue Jays — three teams that are allegedly willing to spend to upgrade their ‘pen this offseason — are also interested.

Hendriks is the best reliever available in the 2020-21 offseason. Should Houston — or Los Angeles — acquire him, it’d signal a massive boost for a contending club come Spring Training.

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