Sorry, A’s fans, I hate to say it, but you shouldn’t get attached to free agent closer Liam Hendriks. Unless you’re selfish like me and enjoy a very entertaining interview.
While the odds are on Hendriks leaving in free agency, there could be good news on the horizon for another A's free agent.
Hendriks has been the best closer in MLB the last two seasons, boasting a 1.80 ERA in 2019 and earning an AL All-Star selection. During a shortened 60-game 2020 season, he posted a 1.78 ERA and was named the AL Reliever of the Year.
During the latest episode of the "Balk Talk" podcast, MLB.com insider Mark Feinsand was asked if it was true or false if Hendriks might end up elsewhere in free agency.
“I would say that’s true,” Feinsand told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Hendriks has been arguably the best reliever in all of baseball the last two years. It’s hard to think of anybody who has been better than him, start to finish from the beginning of 2019 to 2020.
"Typically the A’s do not pay big money for relievers, so I don’t think he’ll wind up back in Oakland. I think there are plenty of high-profile teams with big payrolls that are really in need of help. Teams like the [Boston] Red Sox, teams like the [Philadelphia] Phillies. I think you’re going to have some [Washington] Nationals maybe. I think there are going to be a lot of teams interested in Hendriks and after what he has done in the last two years, he should cash out on that opportunity.”
Now for the hopeful news with a fan favorite: Shortstop Marcus Semien.
Feinsand likes the idea of Semien staying in Oakland. And thanks to a down season in 2020, it could happen.
“I do think he has a very good chance of staying with the A’s, for the reason that you said," Feinsand said." If he had repeated what he did his 2019 season, there would be virtually no chance at all the A’s would be able to afford bringing Semien back."
That dip in 2020 was coming off a 2019 season that had him leading the league with 747 plate appearances and starting all 162 games at shortstop.
In 2019, Semien slashed: .285/.369/.892 In 2020, Semien slashed: .223/.305/.374
“The fact that he had a down year, the fact that these five shortstops are potentially on the free market next year, I think teams that are looking to spend big at that position, are going to wait the year to do that,” Feinsand said. “The fact that Semien struggled a little bit this year, works to Oakland’s advantage and also will leave some question marks that may have had him as one of their top guys a year ago.”
The star shortstops that potentially could be free agents in 2022 include Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Javier Báez, Trevor Story and Carlos Correa. Those are big names that could hit the market a year from now and work in the A’s favor. Would Semien bet on himself and take a one-year contract and try the market next offseason?
It appears doubtful with those names possibly on the market.
“If he would have gone into free agency a year ago, you’re looking at a monstrous contact," Feinsand. "Now, probably not quite as monstrous. So I can’t tell you what I think he’s worth, because again, in this sort of really weird offseason that we’re about to embark upon -- I don’t know what anybody’s worth because it really depends -- you know the saying -- you’re only worth what someone’s willing to pay you, I have no idea what these teams are willing to pay anybody.”