Dodgers Should Pull Trigger on Hyun-Jin Ryu Early

As far as free agent pitchers go, there might not be a better bargain on the market than Hyun-Jin Ryu. There’s no question that the lefty’s injury history will be a huge factor in the offers he garners this winter, but based on risk vs. reward, he might be one of the better fits for front-office boss Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers.

There was rarely a week that went by during the regular season last year when at least one of us here at TBPC was pushing for a Ryu contract extension. At the time, there was some belief that he would command upwards of a five-year deal should he hit the market; however, some reports have surfaced recently that he’d be willing to settle for a three or four year pact, especially if it’s offered by a club on the West Coast.

On the surface, the native of Korea doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to ink a new deal, as he remains committed to working on his winter training routine.

“I am going to focus on training for the new season,” Ryu recently said in an interview with the Yonhap News Agency. “Honestly, I am not really thinking about free agency. But if there’s anything I need to do regarding free agency, I’ll probably fly back to the U.S. at some point.”

Arguably, Ryu is the third-best free agent starting pitcher on the market behind Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. Considering that some pundits feel that both Cole and Strasburg may approach deals in the $200 million range, the fact that Ryu could be snagged for three years and less than $70 million sets him apart from the aforementioned duo.

A few weeks back, our own Jeff D. predicted that Ryu would sign with the Dodgers before the beginning of the Winter Meetings on December 8 in San Diego. If the Dodgers are indeed set on adding another starter to their 2020 rotation plans, that move could end up being a wise one.

Regardless, Ryu is represented by agent Scott Boras, who is notorious for negotiating top-dollar for his clients. Seemingly, Boras is already trying to talk-up Ryu in his conversations with the media.

“He had a Cy Young season. He was the best pitcher in the league,” Boras said recently. “We’re really excited about his future and we’re just beginning to see the real Ryu.”

Consequently, Jim Bowden of The Athletic stated that Ryu may even consider a deal with the Angels should he fail to land a contract with the Dodgers. By many accounts, the Angels are thought to be aggressively pursuing starting pitching this winter.

With reports surfacing last week that righty Kenta Maeda could be seeking a trade, coupled with the uncertainty surrounding the durability of youngsters Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, the addition of a top-notch starting pitcher may be a smart move for the Dodgers heading into 2020.

If he’s able to stay healthy over the next few seasons, a multi-year contract awarded to Ryu could pay itself off exponentially.

During the 2019 regular season, Ryu led MLB in ERA with 2.32 while throwing 182 2/3 innings, his most since 192 innings as a rookie in 2013. He also tied his career high with 14 wins. Not only did he appear in his first-ever All-Star game, but he was also the starting pitcher for the National League.

Ryu finished second in the 2019 Cy Young Award voting behind Jacob deGrom of the Mets.

 

Kenta Maeda Apparently Unhappy with Late-Season Moves to Bullpen

Seemingly, gone are the days when a players is content with contributing at any position on the field, so long as it ultimately makes his team function as a better unit.

One of the first stories I put together this offseason surrounded my opinion regarding how effective righty Kenta Maeda has been as a reliever compared to a starter. In reality, the numbers are actually quite staggering. However, despite his success throwing out of the bullpen, Maeda has expressed his displeasure about being bumped annually from the starting rotation, specifically to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

Andy McCullough of The Athletic unveiled a piece this week reporting the news. In the story, McCullough revealed that Friedman told Maeda to find “another gear” if he wanted to cement himself in the starting rotation. What’s more, McCullough also indicated that both sides have discussed the possibility of Maeda being traded to another club, allowing him to exclusively focus on a starting role.

Despite Maeda’s frustrations, McCullough’s tone suggested that both sides still hold a somewhat friendly relationship. Consequently, it was explained that Maeda isn’t necessarily concerned as much about the money and his contract as he is with his role as a starter.

“He cares more about the role than the contract,” Maeda’s agent, Joel Wolfe, told McCullough. “But the contract acts somewhat as a limitation because there’s a lot of upside for the Dodgers in limiting his starts.”

As far as his performances go, the 31-year-old native of Japan just keeps getting better when he throws in relief, in spite of his desire to start.

In the 2019 NLDS against the Nationals, Maeda was absolutely brilliant. So much so that he was hands-down the team’s best option out of the bullpen. Over four appearances and 4-2/3 scoreless innings pitched, he allowed just one hit while striking out seven.

It was a common occurrence to see his fastball hit 95 MPH. And, his slider looked more effective and filthier than ever.

Lifetime as a starter, Maeda has logged 103 games and has produced a 3.92 ERA, a 1.163 WHIP and a 9.6 K/9. In comparison, over 34 career regular-season appearances as a reliever, he has tallied a 3.18 ERA with a .992 WHIP and a 12.3 K/9.

Speaking of the playoffs, here’s the crazy part: In 22 career relief appearances during the postseason, he has a miniscule 1.64 ERA with 27 strikeouts over an even 22 innings of work. In the playoffs as a starter, he has a 7.83 ERA over 10-2/3 innings.

Based on those numbers, some feel that Friedman has been sympathetic to Maeda for giving him the number of regular-season starts he has.

During his four-year tenure as a Dodger, Kenta has made 32, 25, 20 and 26 starts, respectively. His high innings count was 175-2/3 during his freshman campaign in 2016. His low was 125-1/3 in 2018.

In addition to his $3 million base salary, Maeda earns $1 million for each of 15 and 20 starts, and $1.5 million for each of 25, 30 and 32 starts. Furthermore, he earns $250,000 for each of 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings pitched, and $750,000 for 200 innings.

In my story on Friday, I stated how Maeda is expected to be an anchor of the 2020 Los Angeles starting rotation, but if the reality regarding a trade begins to gain any momentum, there could be chance that the right-hander lands with another team, especially if the Dodgers score a top-tier starting pitcher this winter through a trade or free agency.

 

Andrew Friedman Already Hinting at Plans for 2020 Starting Rotation

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If there are two things we learned at this year’s GM Meetings about the Dodgers‘ plans for 2020, it’s that the team is open to snagging a third baseman on the free agent market, coupled with the belief that front office boss Andrew Friedman is happy with his internal options when considering a possible starting rotation.

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Dodgers Are Pursuing Josh Donaldson, Reportedly

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(USA TODAY Sports photo)

While the annual GM meetings have been happening in Arizona for several days now, there really haven’t been any significant rumors surrounding the Dodgers until today.

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3 Dark Horse Relievers Dodgers Could Target During 2019-20 Offseason

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(Photo Credit: Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports)

While some fans of the Dodgers believe that a big splash this winter personnel-wise is vital in improving the team, there’s a good probability that Andrew Friedman and his crew will make one or more of their trademark, reclamation-type of acquisitions to fortify the roster.

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Whatever Happened to Yadier Alvarez?

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Once a household name on the prospect circuit, Yadier Alvarez is lucky to find himself among the Dodgers‘ Top 100 future stars today.

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Assembling a Functioning Outfield for 2020

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(Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re one of those folks who follows every major rumor surrounding the Dodgers during the offseason, it wouldn’t be difficult to find yourself spinning in circles after just a few minutes of internet surfing.

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Dodgers Linked to Edwin Diaz, Again

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Just like they were around the peak of last summer’s trade deadline, the Dodgers have been linked to New York reliever Edwin Diaz ahead of this winter’s Hot Stove season.

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Russell Martin Already Preparing for 2020 Season

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While a return for catcher Russell Martin to the Dodgers in 2020 is still up in the air, his intentions for next season are certainly clear, as he already began his very strict workout routine preparing for the upcoming campaign.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Jeter Downs Still Gaining Ground

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Prior to the 2018 campaign, shortstop has been a position that the Dodgers didn’t worry too much about, specifically in terms of stability at the MLB level and depth on the farm.

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