While many teams around baseball have been very aggressive with their respective player acquisitions so far this offseason, Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers have been much more cautious, seemingly waiting to make the right move at the exact right time.
For the first time in several years, it became evident that Los Angeles was prepared to make a big splash in the winter market, as made evident by its reported eight-year, $300 million offer to starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. The offer was rumored to be the highest free-agent deal proposed to a player in the history of the franchise.
Nevertheless, one move—or non-move—that’s been puzzling is the fact that Hyun-Jin Ryu is still on the free agent board waiting for a deal. There have been all kinds of reports out there—giving fans a wide-range of resources from which to believe. News out of the Dodgers camp says that the team has engaged with the lefty’s client, Scott Boras, while Ryu himself has recently told the media there hasn’t been any negotiations between the two sides at all.
“If the Dodgers wanted to re-sign me, they would have told my agent,” Ryu said in an interview on Wednesday. “I haven’t heard from him yet, and honestly, I don’t have much to tell you right now.”
Another surprising tidbit that came from Ryu’s conversation was when the 2019 Cy Young runner-up stated that pitching on the West Coast was not paramount to his new deal. Heading into the offseason, many pundits felt that a club in the West was definitely in the cards for the 32-year-old native of Korea.
“I’ve never once said anything like that,” Ryu explained. “No matter where I end up, I’ll just try to pitch the best I can.”
Boras echoed the same sentiments when asked about Ryu’s preferred landing spots.
“Geography is something that players look at and evaluate, but I don’t think it’s an overriding consideration,” Boras told reporters at this week’s Winter Meetings. “The distance from Seoul to any major league franchise, I am not sure it’s relevant.”
Early projections had Ryu pegged at receiving a contract in the three-year, $60 million range, but based on the way the market has developed so far this winter, it wouldn’t be surprising if the lefty was seeking to add a fourth year onto his initial target.
In the meantime, whether negotiations are progessing with Ryu or not, the Dodgers have been talking with representatives of former division-rival lefty Madison Bumgarner.
Initially, Tim Dierkes at MLBTR had Bumgarner pegged at receiving a four-year deal in the range of $72 million, but like Ryu’s increasing stock, newer reports suggest that Bumgarner will be seeking a deal in the $100 million range.
It is unknown whether Los Angeles is using Bumgarner as a fallback option to Ryu or if Friedman and his troops prefer the former San Francisco ace over everyone else.
Conceivably, there may be a huge concern about Ryu’s injury history relative to his age. Aside from two freak injuries—a broken finger from a comebacker last spring and a shoulder separation resulting from a dirtbike accident two years ago—their hasn’t been a healthier starting pitcher in baseball than Bumgarner.
Over the course of the last few weeks, Ryu has drawn keen interest from the Blue Jays, the Twins and the Cardinals.