Oakland A’s fans got to watch Liam Hendriks’ spectacular rise. The Australian went from being designated for assignment in 2018 to baseball’s best reliever, an Oakland hero through the truncated 2020 season.
Now, he’s leaving Oakland for a lucrative, three-year deal to play for the Chicago White Sox.
Yes, he’ll be joining the same team that he squelched to secure the A’s first postseason series victory since 2006.
It’s a career arc the A’s are familiar with, watching a talent grow far out of their team’s restrictive budget. They’re also familiar with what comes next: trying to find the next unpolished gem that may flourish in the A’s vacant closer role and repeat the cycle.
The A’s are likely to look at outside options — via trade or free agency — to bolster the bullpen if Yusmeiro Petit, T.J. McFarland and Joakim Soria depart but probably won’t be out seeking a closer.
They have in-house options who can slide into that role. And, keep in mind, a de-facto closer could give way to a more generalized concept of a high-leverage reliever.
Here’s who you might see taking on closer — or high leverage reliever — duties in 2021.
General manager David Forst and manager Bob Melvin have said openly that Diekman is the most logical option to close in 2021.