The Dodgers were one of few teams to enter a bid for the right to negotiate a contract with Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu on this date last year.
The Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization accepted the Dodgers’ bid of $27,373,373.33, giving them exclusive negotiating rights with the 25-year-old pitcher. Repeating threes and sevens was a tactic used by the Dodgers to secure the bid because the numbers seven and three are lucky in Korean culture. By winning the bid, the Dodgers had a month to negotiate with Ryu and his agent.
Ryu became the first player head to the major leagues straight from the KBO. In his career, he was 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA in seven seasons. Ryu would win the strikeout title in five of those seven seasons and was an All-Star in every season he played in. In 2006, Ryu would be named the KBO’s MVP and Rookie of the Year after finishing 18-6 with a 2.23 ERA. The left-hander was a member of South Korea’s gold medal-winning Olympic team in the 2008 games. Ryu would be returning to pitch at Dodger Stadium, where he pitched for Korea in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
The Dodgers would eventually sign Ryu to a six-year, $36 million contract in December and slot him behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The Korean left-hander put up some solid numbers in his rookie season, finishing 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 games starter. He added 154 strikeouts in 192 innings of work and in the playoffs, Ryu would become the first South Korean player to start a postseason game.
The Dodgers signee became the latest Korean player to join the team, as he followed in the footsteps of pitchers Chan Ho Park and Jae Weong Seo and first baseman Hee Seop Choi. If last season was any indication, Ryu has the chance to become the best of that bunch.
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