Free agent starter, and NL Cy Young runner-up, Hyun-Jin Ryu is facing a bit of uncertainty for the first time in his career. While there is no shot of Ryu ending up without a lucrative MLB contract somewhere, this is also the first time the ace has control of his destination. He initially came to the Dodgers via the posting system from Korea’s KBO league.
After leading the league in ERA in 2019, the 32 year-old is a hot name around baseball. While there reportedly hasn’t been much contact between the Dodgers and Ryu’s camp yet this off-season, there is a reasonable expectation that Los Angeles will at least take a look at re-upping with their star lefty.
However, don’t expect Ryu and agent Scott Boras to sit around waiting for a phone call from Andrew Friedman and company. The free agent has already been connected to the Texas Rangers in rumors, and now one baseball writer is linking him to a National League West rival.
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) November 17, 2019
MLB.com correspondent Richard Justice identified Ryu as a perfect free-agent fit for the San Diego Padres in a recent column. Here’s what he had to say.
Hyun-Jin Ryu to the Padres
GM A.J. Preller’s lengthy offseason to-do list begins with a proven arm at the top of a young rotation, and with the Dodgers seemingly ready to let Ryu walk, the timing appears right. Ryu led the Majors with a 2.32 ERA this past season, and over the last two years, his 2.21 ERA is the second lowest in baseball, trailing only two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom’s 2.05 mark.
While Ryu to San Diego wouldn’t be the worst-case scenario, it certainly would be less than ideal for Los Angeles and Dodger fans. Losing a staff ace to a divisional rival is usually not how you draw up an off-season. I’m sure fans remember the fun of losing Zack Grienke to Arizona.
The deeper we get into the off-season, the less you feel like the Dodgers are interested in taking an honest run at Ryu. And that’s somewhat understandable. He’ll be 33 in March. He’s reportedly looking for a 3-4 year contract. And he has a checkered past in regards to injury concerns.
However, he is coming off the best season of his career, and — and Justice notes — his ERA over the last two seasons trails only Jacob deGrom of the Mets. deGrom has won the Cy Young award in each of the last two seasons, so Ryu is undoubtedly in elite company in the NL.
With Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole still on the free agent market, Ryu may have to hold out for a good while before finding his new home.