Star closer Liam Hendriks seen visiting Blue Jays’ complex in Dunedin

Alex Seixeiro, Ben Nicholson-Smith & Arden Zwelling talk about the significance behind Liam Hendriks visiting the Toronto Blue Jays’ complex in Dunedin.

TORONTO – Closer Liam Hendriks, the top reliever available in free agency, was seen Monday visiting the Toronto Blue Jays’ new complex in Dunedin, Fla., according to a source.

The recruitment visit for the 31-year-old suggests he’s among the priority targets for his former club, whom he pitched for both in 2014 and ’15 before being traded to Oakland for Jesse Chavez.

With the Athletics, Hendriks emerged as one of the most dominant relievers in baseball, logging 110 innings over 99 games the past two seasons, with a WHIP of 0.897 and 161 strikeouts.

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While he knows Toronto well and his wife Kristi is from Montreal, Hendriks would be less familiar with the current front office. A visit would help acquaint him with the new group, as well as the club’s new state-of-the-art player-development complex, expected to be an asset for the franchise.

Hendriks lives in Fort Myers, Fla., a roughly three-hour drive from Dunedin, so a trip north wouldn’t be done on whim.

Signing a big-ticket reliever would be a departure for the Blue Jays, who in recent years have stitched together bullpens through value-play rebound signings.

But they’ve been involved in all corners of the free-agent and trade markets this winter.

One area coming to a head is that involving Japanese right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano, whom Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports is expected to make a decision in the next day or two.

The Blue Jays have some interest in the starter, according to an industry source, although the degree of their involvement is unclear.

While resolution there one way or another is coming soon, there doesn’t yet appear to be a timeline for George Springer to land with another team. The New York Mets are speculatively considered his top choice, but the Blue Jays have also made him a top priority and are thought to be awaiting resolution there before locking in on other targets.

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Perhaps holding things up in that regard, according to the industry source, is the Mets’ concurrent interest in right-hander Trevor Bauer. Each camp may be waiting for the other to establish the market, and with the Mets and Blue Jays being off-season linchpins given their intentions to spend, that stalemate may be holding other areas of the market up.

Sportsnet colleague Ben Nicholson-Smith took a good look at Springer’s value in this piece here.

The Blue Jays have also been engaged with Bauer, who said in a social media post last week that he was to meet with pitching coach Pete Walker and a high-performance coach, presumably department head Angus Mugford.


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