The more starting pitchers who disappear from this winter’s free agent board, the more the stock of Hyun-Jin Ryu seems to rise.
After fellow southpaw Dallas Keuchel agreed to a three-year, $55 million pact with the White Sox on Saturday, the most recent reports have revealed that there are now up to seven different teams actively engaging with Ryu.
Not long after the Dodgers were eliminated from the 2019 postseason, many fans seemed to think that the Los Angeles roster did not need much upgrading, attributing the team’s early playoff exit to some untimely hitting and a much mismanaged bullpen by the coaching staff, specifically in the NLDS decider.
However, once those same fans became aware that the team was actively pursuing superstars like Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon, a new excitement arose, allowing supporters of the club to believe that a huge upgrade was about to take place.
For a moment, it looked like front-office boss Andrew Friedman was about to make a big splash which could conceivably push his club above most of the league’s other contenders.
Yet, as the remaining free agents continued to be plucked one by one by rival clubs, fan criticism began to quickly rise, as hopes of improving the Los Angeles roster appear to be fading quite quickly—at least in terms of a free agent perspective.
The fallback of not landing Cole or Strasburg for the Dodgers appeared to be the pursuit of Ryu. At the conclusion of the 2019 World Series, some pundits felt that Ryu could have been had for a three-year, $60 million dollar deal—especially if the offer came from a team on the West Coast—but now that he is the best available starting pitcher left standing on the free agent market, some believe that he could be commanding offers upwards of four years and $80 million.
It’s tough to tell exactly what the intentions of Friedman are, as he normally keeps most of his offseason strategies very close to his hip. Yet, the more time that passes by, the more people feel that Friedman isn’t seriously interested in offering Ryu a multi-year deal, perhaps because of the southpaw’s pedigree laden with injuries.
Jon Heyman chimed in on Sunday with a tweet that gave us an idea as to which teams are currently courting Ryu.
In the end, whichever team ends up signing Ryu may eventually be rewarded handsomely with a very effective tenure from the 32-year-old lefty. In the same breath, if an old injury ends up rearing its ugly head, a four-year deal could end up butchering a team’s long-term payroll budget in a heartbeat.