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.
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.
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