Dodgers Pass on Bringing Back Hyun-Jin Ryu


Late last night, news broke that Hyun-Jin Ryu signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ryu signed with the Dodgers in 2013 at age 26 after already having played in the Korean Baseball Organization for seven years. He went 28-15 over his first two seasons in Los Angeles, before missing all the 2015 season and almost all of the 2016 season, pitching in just one game after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

He also missed big chunks of the 2017 and 2018 seasons with injuries, most notably one that was due to a muscle completely tearing off his thigh bone. He also incurred a similar injury in 2019, but recovered in less time than his previous injury.

In what was his last season in Dodger uniform, Ryu really shined. He started the season 11-2 through July, and started multiple important games, including Opening Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the 2019 All-Star game.

The second half of the season was not as kind to The Korean Monster and cost him the Cy Young award. In August, he lost three games, and his ERA for the month was 7.48. He went 2-0 in September over four games and his ERA was a much better 2.13. He also provided Dodger fans with one of the top highlights of the season, homering in the last game of the regular season, causing fans and announcers alike to temporarily lose their minds.

Ryu still finished the year with the lowest ERA in baseball, but lost the Cy Young to Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets.

Many fans wanted Ryu to re-sign with the Dodgers. When healthy, he was a very dominant pitcher who while not flashy, missed bats and didn’t allow many home runs, or runs at all. The Dodgers are the only team Ryu had played for in the United States, and six seasons is a long time, these days anyway, with one team. And Ryu’s bromances with Juan Uribe, Yasiel Puig and others will always bring a smile to fans’ faces.

But, presumably what the Dodgers front office was considering were the history of injuries as well as his age. Ryu will be 33 to start the 2020 season. There wasn’t much to lead fans to believe that the Dodgers were in on reuniting with Ryu, as he himself told a Korean newspaper that the Dodgers had not even had contact with the left-hander. The Dodgers also have a history of not negotiating with Scott Boras, Ryu’s agent.

Ultimately, Ryu signed with the Blue Jays for four years and $80 million. That length of contract is also not one the Dodgers’ front office would tend to give out, especially to an aging, oft-injured pitcher. While we will miss cheering for him, I think that the Dodgers ultimately saw something that did not make them want to pursue re-signing Ryu. For now, I will trust them on that.

The loss of Ryu leaves a hole in the Dodgers rotation, between Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. But since the Dodgers apparently were never in on Ryu to begin with, one would assume they have a plan to fill that slot. In addition to Buehler and Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Dustin May, Julio Urias, and Ross Stripling will most likely see time in a starting roll. That rotation will be good enough to win the division with, but you couldn’t rely on it to do more than that, unless May and another starter like Urías both have standout seasons.

Rumors still abound about the Dodgers being in contact with the Cleveland Indians and their interest in Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger. I think there will be another pitcher in the Los Angeles rotation to start the season, whether through a trade with the Indians or another team. We just will have to keep waiting for news in that area.


38 thoughts on “Dodgers Pass on Bringing Back Hyun-Jin Ryu

  1. Ok, so the Dodgers do not want to trade Lux to get Lindor and Clevinger and I agree. I have also seen that Seager has been discussed. I would rather see Seager extended as I think he will be much better in the future, with his surgeries a year and a half plus behind him. The last real difference making third base free agent is Donaldson, who appears to be looking for 4 years. At his age, and potential cost of $100M, I don’t think the Dodgers will do this and that makes sense also. With a full year from Lux and Smith and hopefully fully healthy Years from , Pollock, Verdugo, Turner, etc, the offense may well be better than last season. I feel, that bounce back seasons from Jansen, Treinen and Kelly would leave the bullpen in great shape. The Dodgers obviously think very highly of Urias, May and Gonsolin, so they may decided to roll the dice with these youngsters to see if they are ready to evolve into the aces, that they have passed on at $20-$35M per year. It’s possible that at least one of them becomes a dominant pitcher this year. I have read of the possibility of taking on David Price’s contract in a deal for Mookie Betts. That would certainly solve the Redsox payroll problem and also reduce the Dodgers commitment going to the Sox. Something like Pollock , with Stripling, Santana, Rios and Cartaya might get it done. Losing Pollock’s contract, would offset a good chunk of paying Price for the next few years. Anyway, I would hate to give up Seager, Lux or any of our top prospects for a superstar we’d only have for 1-2 years.

  2. I’m hoping that Manfred clobbers the Astros so badly that, for example, they won’t be eligible for the WS for a year or two. Then AF can swoop in and offer to take Greinke off their hands for Pollock. I hadn’t realized just how great a year Zack had in 2019 but it was really excellent. He won 18 games with an ERA below 3.00, a WHIP below 1.00 and a bWar of 6.4. He has 2 years left on his contract @ 35MM per year but giving them Pollock would bring it down to about 20 MM. One way or the other, I expect a veteran added to the rotation before ST, so if not Greinke look for a name like Samardzija, Cueto or someone of that ilk to grace our shores. Someone with some amount of past success and a cumbersome contract who now plays for a non-contender. Just the kind of move that would drive Bear (and probably me) absolutely nuts. That’s why I’m hoping for Greinke.

    1. Your post reminded me of what a bad signing Pollock was, at the time of the signing I hated it, after a season of Pollock, I now detest the signing. AF’s big signings are just flops, I does he not see that the rest of us see. Also, I just don’t see the Astros giving us an out of the Pollock matter. Cueto would be a perfect fit for AF, he loves to sign pitchers coming off a season full of injury. I agree Jeff, I’d love to see the glassy-eyed Greinke back with the Dodgers.

      1. Good description, “glassy eyed”. I love everything about him. He’s a really smart ballplayer, excellent fielder, has a good sense of humor that very few know about and really knows how to pitch (which, of course, is the most important qualification). Would love to have him back. I also love Cueto although that would be a huge risk, but hey, maybe I can get you to sign on if it means you can get rid of Pollock. Their salaries match up very well, although Pollock is over more years.

      2. I,loved Greinke too, but still sort of pissed that he opted out of his Dodger contract a few years ago and then signed with AZ. I kind of felt he didn’t like being considered second fiddle to Kershaw.

      3. I doubt Greinke had a problem being second fiddle to CK, in fact I bet he preferred it that way. I think it was simply a money thing, coupled with the fact that he stated he really liked Phoenix when he signed there and I know he was no fan of L.A. traffic. Not to mention the “Hollywood lifestyle.”

      4. You are probably right from observing his personality. He left after going 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA after the 2015 season. Personally I thought he deserved the Cy Young that season though Arrieta was certainly great that season too.

    2. The Astros don’t need Pollock for one thing and I wouldn’t help SF rid themselves of their bad contracts for someone as high risk as Cueto.

      1. Astros – I don’t care if they need him or not. Like all fans, I’m only looking at this from our perspective.
        Giants – I’m a huge Cueto fan so here again, I’m looking at this emotionally rather than logically.
        You could say I’m just a typical fan and you wouldn’t be wrong. 🙂

  3. Exe Giants in Dodger blue…..question, off of the top of your head can you name any exe Giant who came to LA and excelled? They have made very few trades over the years for good reason,. one reason I knew Zaidi would never send LA one of his better players in trade at the deadline. He would have been roasted worse than AF if he had done that no matter who he could have pried away. Same thing goes the other way. Most have not fared very well.

      1. Before Bear responds, I just looked him up and he signed as free agent after two years with Astros, so not traded by Giants to Dodgers.

      2. Yes, Jeff did fine in Dodger blue. But only 1 out of over 200 players who have been on both teams? Pretty bad ratio. I do remember Tom Haller coming over and having a couple of decent years. LA was strapped in the catching department. Dick Dietz even saw some time in LA. Baker flopped after signing a free agent deal in SF. Candy Maldonado who was traded for Alex Trevino had some good years as a Giant. So did Jeffery, one wing down. Leonard.

  4. And then, of course there was that Cueto trade in early 2020, after which he went on to win the Cy Young.

    1. Wow, you do have a thing for Cueto! I will bet you a Dodger Dog he never has a winning season again; and he will never pitch in Dodger Blue either.

      1. I would agree that he is very unlikely to ever pitch in Dodger blue. With regard to the other part of your bet, does 3-2 count as a winning season? And (he said in a whisper) don’t tell anyone but I much prefer Chicago dogs to Dodger Dogs which I think are very overrated.

      2. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with an Italian sausage. Ok let’s just consider it a no-stakes bet (also a no steaks bet) since I don’t know that we’ll ever be in the same place at the same time for a pay off.

  5. Greinke huh? Yeah, I’d take him back, but I wouldn’t give anything of value. As of now, why would Houston let him go? They haven’t been punished and who knows what, if anything, MLB will do?

    As is we project more wins above replacement than any team in the NL. We haven’t done much and the numbers say 99 wins. I’ll take that without doing anything. Let the kids play.

    1. When I mentioned getting Greinke it was based on MLB coming down so heavily on the Astros that they wouldn’t have any use for him in the next year or two and it would simply be a salary dump for them. Obviously that couldn’t happen until Manfred announces the penalty.

  6. Costco dog 10 times better at a tenth of the price of a Dodger dog! And you get dessert just walking down the aisles! And McCourt doesn’t get a take when you park!

    1. All good points Rich but I found that I really had to strain to see home plate from aisle 8 when I was at Costco last season. Probably need to switch my seat next year. Costco dogs are excellent not to mention their baked goods.

    2. You can buy Dodger dogs at AM PM 2 for 3 bucks. Cheaper than Costco dogs and better. You can also buy them at the supermarkets. Made by Farmer John meats.

  7. Such a terrible move in so many ways. I’m too disgusted to even care about this team right now. Could have had another ace for 4/$80 and instead Friedman will fill his place with Jason Vargas or Jeremy Hellickson or a hobo off the street. Truly pathetic.

    1. Hang in there Alex. I feel your pain. You must have been facing Toronto instead of Dodger Stadium when you kept shouting “Pay the Man!”.

      1. I just don’t see a logical next move to make losing Ryu work out. He wants to stay under the tax so Price is out and he’s not better than Ryu anyway. Lindor abs Clevenger is a pipe dream that will never happen because AF won’t give up the prospects he hoards. The free agent market is a joke he better not insult our intellect by trying to sign a starter still on the market and pass him as better than anything we have right now. I honestly just hope he signs Betances and takes a run at Hader and does nothing else. See how good the team is with Luz, Smith, Verdugo playing everyday and a rotation of Kershaw, Buehler, May, Urias and Maeda/Gonsulin/Stripling. It won’t be near as good as this last years team but they would get needed experience.

      2. We don’t know for an absolute fact that they insist on staying under the tax and I can’t see any way that we wind up with Price without Betts coming along in the same deal. Knowing that they plan to get those two or Clevinger would explain why they let Ryu go, although I’m certainly not saying that either of those scenarios is definitely going to happen. I would agree with you that if AF can’t get a good starter he needs to shore up the bullpen. We, as fans, tend to be pretty impatient (myself included). I think we need to wait for a couple more months before drawing any definite conclusions.

      3. I just don’t trust AF in this situation. He won’t trade prime prospects for elite relievers we know that much. I see Betances being the best we can hope for with the more likely being another project or broken down body type. You aren’t getting Lindor and Clevenger for anything less than something like Lux, May, Joc and Edwin Rios at minimum. I could see them asking Lux, May, Verdugo and Jeter Downs without blinking an eye.

      4. I don’t see how they get together on a Lindor/Clevinger trade either. I’m not even sure that Lux, May, Verdugo and Downs would satisfy them. They might want Joc in the deal also.
        I’m not trading Lux. If we got Clevinger, I would consider including May. Like I said, I don’t see a deal happening for those two.

  8. Ryu needed to get 80 million in Canada. those taxes up there are going to really take a chunk out of that .

    1. Do you think there’s any chance that they made their offer in Canadian dollars? That would only be about $60 MM in US dollars. Quick Andrew, we still have a chance.

      1. I sincerely doubt that is the case. I remember the stink that was raised when the Canadians said they were going to tax players from other teams when they came to play in Canada. Like a double income tax since they were being payed to play there. I do not think that was ever put into law, and if it had been, I do not think there would be a team in Canada now.

  9. Those of you who twit will recognize this quote from Rob Hill

    “My goal is to continue to change the direction of this game from the inside out.”

    Then this from …..somewhere – “While Rick Honeycutt was an amazing pitching coach, it is excellent to see the Dodgers emphasize analytics with their coaching staff. Who knows — with the help of Hill, guys like Clayton Kershaw could find their velocity once again.“

    That would be nice.

    Apparently the big shakeup was the changes made in the coaching staff. Well, I trust May and Urias will step in and step up. We don’t need Ryu. And now we have plenty of money to extend controllable players. I wonder if that’s even a thing anymore?

    1. It will be really interesting to see how the change in the pitching coaching staff will affect the various pitchers next season. Driveline has been responsible for some major progress for certain pitchers and Rob Hill has been a part of that. As far as having plenty of money, we do as I write this, but we may take on the Betts and Price contracts before Santa comes down the chimney tonight (just saying – no new rumors), so don’t draw any conclusions quite yet.

  10. Lots of talent in the NL west, should be a lot of good young players to watch in the next Pole of years.
    Thanks for the link scoop, always good stuff.

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