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Hyun-Jin Ryu Rumors
The game is in need of greater minority representation in its most visible non-playing role, that of manager, says Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman lists twenty excellent candidates who ought to receive strong consideration from those clubs that are in need of new dugout leaders after the season.
- It’s no secret, of course, that Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman would draw intense interest on the trade market if they are made available. Writing for FOX Sports, Jeff Sullivan analyzes just how much they could bring back this summer. In spite of his excellence, Cueto might most realistically be expected to bring back a very good prospect rather than a great one, says Sullivan, while Chapman probably has somewhat more value given his nearly-unmatched dominance and extra year of control. As Sullivan notes, the possibility of jointly marketing the two in search of more premium talent in less player seems interesting, though perhaps something of a long shot.
- The Twins have decided to move top-100 pitching prospect Alex Meyer into the Triple-A bullpen, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. It appears that the team is doing so more with the idea of getting him back on track than preparing him for MLB bullpen work — Meyer has struggled mightily, especially with his control — but it would not be surprising to see him appear as a late-inning arm if he can turn things around and Minnesota can stay in the hunt.
- Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, who is set to miss the rest of the year with shoulder surgery, told reporters that he has been pitching with a labrum tear at least since he signed with the club, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group tweets. Ryu says that his MRI back in 2013 revealed the slight tear, which has not worsened — but is apparently now a much greater problem — since that time.
- Meanwhile, the Dodgers will not attempt to void the contract of infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets. While the club felt justified in suspending Arruebarrena for the entire rest of the year for disciplinary reasons, Saxon says that the still-unreported transgressions were not considered significant enough to warrant yet more drastic action.
Dodgers left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu underwent shoulder surgery today that revealed damage in his labrum, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. News Group (Twitter link). The labral repair surgery will end Ryu’s 2015 season without throwing a pitch, though Mattingly told reporters that the team’s expectation is that Ryu will be ready to pitch in Spring Training 2016.
The 28-year-old Ryu is earning $4MM in 2015 — the third season of a six-year, $36MM contract signed in the 2012-13 offseason. He’ll join right-hander Brandon McCarthy on the shelf for the duration of the season, leaving the Dodgers with just 60 percent of their projected rotation available for the rest of the year on May 21.
Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Brett Anderson will front the rotation moving forward, but Anderson’s injury history is among the lengthiest of any active pitcher in the league, so the Dodgers have to be at least somewhat concerned with their rotation depth moving forward. To this point, both Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias have pitched well as substitutes, but neither has any sort of track record in the Major Leagues.
Ryu projected as the Dodgers’ No. 3 starter this season after adjusting from the Korea Baseball Organization to Major League Baseball quite well from 2013-14. In those two seasons, Ryu worked to a combined 3.17 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 49.2 percent ground-ball rate. However, he failed to reach 200 frames in either of those campaigns, and he bothered by shoulder troubles in 2014, spending time on the 15-day DL early in the season and seeing his season end on Sept. 12 due to shoulder fatigue.
The Dodgers have a rich farm system that should afford them the ability to trade for rotation help if they see fit. Given the fact that the only starters who are guaranteed to return in 2016 are Kershaw, Ryu and McCarthy — Anderson is on a one-year deal, whereas Greinke has the ability to opt out of his contract’s remaining three years after the season — Los Angeles could is a speculative fit not only for rental pitchers such as Scott Kazmir, but for longer-term assets like Cole Hamels (if, of course, it is determined that trades are the best route).
The Dodgers have steadfastly refused to include Corey Seager, Julio Urias or breakout rookie Joc Pederson in trades to this point, and I’d imagine that will continue to be the case as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Nonetheless, the team has enough depth in the farm system that it will have a number of realistic targets to explore if president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and VP Josh Byrnes elect to engage other clubs in trade talks.
MAY 20: The Dodgers announced that Ryu will have an arthroscopic procedure tomorrow, to be performed by team surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
MAY 19, 11:45pm: Ryu has elected to undergo shoulder surgery, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. According to Saxon’s source, an MRI on Ryu’s shoulder didn’t reveal a tear or any obvious structural damage, so the surgery would be exploratory in nature — an attempt to determine the cause of the inflammation that has prevented him from pitching in 2015. Nevertheless, an operation of that nature would cast significant doubt on Ryu’s ability to pitch for the Dodgers this season and, as Saxon notes, could send the team into a full-scale search for starting pitching upgrades.
11:40am: A “shoulder cleanup” is likely, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
10:58am: Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu is weighing the possibility of a surgical option to solve his shoulder problems, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. While Passan notes that a report out of Ryu’s native Korea suggests surgery will take place this week, his sources say that a decision has yet to be made.
This development is the latest sign of trouble for Ryu, who has struggled to regain velocity as his shoulder has continued to prove problematic. Ryu has yet to pitch this year, and recent reports indicated that he did not even have a timetable to re-start a throwing program.
The 28-year-old experienced arm issues last year, but has been excellent when healthy. All said, he’s provided Los Angeles with 344 innings of 3.17 ERA pitching, with 7.7 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9, over the last two seasons.
The Dodgers signed Ryu for six years and $36MM out of Korea in the winter of 2012 after paying a $25.7MM posting fee. That contract has long looked like a steal, but will cost the team more in the coming seasons, as Ryu is owed $7MM annually from 2016-18. (Of course, that’s a relatively meager sum for the large-budget Dodgers.)
Of more immediate concern to Los Angeles, the prospect of an even longer absence from Ryu brings the team’s starting depth into further question. Major free agent addition Brandon McCarthy is already going to miss this year and much of next after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and the team is currently trotting out Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias as its fourth and fifth starters. While those pitchers have (somewhat surprisingly) provided excellent results to date, it would not be surprising to see the Dodgers play a significant role on the summer trade market.
After months of anticipation, the Dodgers have finalized their agreement with Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. The two sides first shook hands on a six-year, $62.5MM deal back in March but a few roadblocks – including visa issues – dragged the process out a bit. Today, the i’s are dotted, the t’s are crossed, and Olivera is at long last an official member of the Dodgers.
There are still lingering questions, however, not the least of which is where Olivera will fit into the Dodgers’ big league picture with plenty of talent already at second base, third base, and the corner outfield positions. Minutes ago on a conference call, I asked Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman if Olivera’s arrival could open things up for a potential trade down the line.
“I think having as many good players as possible helps you not only in constructing your own roster, but it allows you the opportunity to talk with more teams. If we’re ever complaining about having too much depth then that’s a good problem to have, but we’re certainly not there yet. Adding someone that has a chance to impact the game is obviously always a good thing,” Friedman said.
Friedman clearly wasn’t looking to discuss specific trade possibilities, but one has to imagine that the Dodgers could parlay their offensive depth into pitching, particularly in the wake of rumblings that pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu could require season-ending shoulder surgery. There’s no word yet on whether Ryu will have to go under the knife, but Friedman says that he has been bracing for the worst and planning as though he will not have Ryu the rest of the way. The Dodgers expect to know more about the left-hander’s condition on Wednesday, and that information will shape their approach this summer.
The immediate plan for Olivera will be to work him up through the minor league system. The infielder’s first stop will be in Arizona (for “a few days”), followed by a bump up to Oklahoma City. Given Olivera’s age and the size of his deal, there has been a lot of talk about him making an immediate impact at the major league level. Still, Friedman wasn’t willing to put a timetable on when the Cuban standout might join the varsity squad.
When Olivera is ready for primetime, Friedman says that the organization is open to different positions for him. While Olivera worked out at the Dodgers academy, Friedman received reports indicating that he was taking well to both second and third base. Olivera is also said to have the range to play in the outfield, so that could theoretically be an option for L.A.
Of course, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd outlined a bit earlier this afternoon, that versatility doesn’t exactly make his path to the Majors any clearer. The Dodgers have Juan Uribe, Alex Guerrero, Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner all, like Olivera, capable of playing multiple infield positions. And, starting second baseman Howie Kendrick doesn’t figure to be displaced anytime soon (he’s even been mentioned as an extension candidate). In the outfield, Andre Ethier has looked rejuvenated this season, with Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford, Guerrero and Hernandez all serving as options as well (though Puig and Crawford are currently injured). Versatile as he may be, Olivera joins a crowded mix of players in an intriguing logjam that figures to be addressed at some point down the line.
In addition to Olivera, the Dodgers also completed the signing of Cuban righty Pablo Millan Fernandez to a minor league contract. Fernandez, who, according to Friedman, has an Orlando Hernandez-type windup that many Cuban pitchers are fond of, will be stretched out to be a starter.
Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is returning to active duty tomorrow, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports on Twitter. Pence has yet to see MLB action this year since suffering a fractured forearm in the spring. The 32-year-old figures to provide a nice boost to the club, which has produced middling results thus far.
Here are some more injury notes from around the game:
- Another important player who received promising injury news is Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets, Tanaka threw 35 pitches in a BP session today and seems to be nearing the start of a rehab stint. Tanaka’s continued progress is obviously welcome, particularly given that swingman Chase Whitley may be headed for season-ending surgery.
- The Blue Jays also have some notable situations to watch, with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca providing several updates. Outfielder Michael Saunders will miss four to six weeks to rest his knee. And catcher Dioner Navarro still does not have a timetable for a rehab assignment as he rests his hamstring. More positively, shortstop Jose Reyes is nearing his own build-up through the minors. While Saunders and Reyes are important for the team, the Navarro news is most notable from a transactional perspective. Though he has not done much offensively this year, Navarro could be a useful trade piece for a Toronto club that has other needs — if he can reestablish his health and show more promise at the plate.
- The Nationals made the surprising announcement today that righty Doug Fister is heading to the DL with right forearm tightness (via Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com, on Twitter). Young starter A.J. Cole, one of the team’s top prospects, will return to take his spot on the active roster. While hidden somewhat due to the attention given to Stephen Strasburg, there is cause for concern with Fister, whose velocity (86.1 mph average two-seam fastball), K:BB ratio (4.1 K/9 vs. 2.3 BB/9), and groundball rate (40.9%) have suffered in comparison to his usual numbers. Of course, the Nationals are somewhat uniquely suited to weather any extended absence, should that prove necessary. But for the 31-year-old free agent-to-be, the first two months of the season have left him with plenty to prove the rest of the way.
- Hyun-jin Ryu of the Dodgers is still not even scheduled to resume throwing, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports on Twitter. The health of the 28-year-old lefty remains a key sub-plot in the development of the summer trade market: L.A. already profiles as a strong buyer for starting pitching, and its needs would be enhanced greatly if Ryu isn’t able to develop an upward trajectory.
The Dodgers‘ latest update on the shoulder of Hyun-jin Ryu is not a good one. As Zach Helfand of the Los Angeles Times reports, Ryu sat in the 82 to 83 mph range in his last bullpen session. Manager Don Mattingly says that level was below what the team was comfortable with to continue his progression, with the club preferring instead to give Ryu extra rest. Mattingly acknowledged some concern, though he indicated it is too early to tell whether Ryu will get back on his expected timetable. The Dodgers’ summer trade plans could hinge in large part on Ryu’s health.
- The Astros have placed star outfielder George Springer on the 7-day concussion DL and promoted fellow youngster Preston Tucker to take his place, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. Tucker, 24, entered the year listed by Baseball America as the 14th best prospect in a deep system. The power-hitting outfielder is off to a .320/.378/.650 start with ten long balls in 111 Triple-A plate appearances. Houston will need to make a 40-man move tomorrow.
- Meanwhile, Astros third base prospect Colin Moran will miss four to six weeks after suffering a broken jaw, Drellich tweets. Moran, 22, was scuffling somewhat at Double-A, where he owns a .268/.318/.378 line in 88 turns at bat. He was acquired last summer as part of the deal that also brought Jake Marisnick to the Stros in exchange for Jarred Cosart (among other pieces). The club is still waiting for him to find his expected development arc; whether he is able to do so will have important implications on the club’s long-term planning.
- Josh Reddick has had a breakout month at the plate for the Athletics, Dave Cameron writes for FOX Sports. Beyond his impressive results, Reddick has put up an outstanding mix of good and frequent contact, writes Cameron, who explains that a change in approach may be to credit. Reddick has just one season of arbitration eligibility remaining after this year, and he looks to be on pace to significantly boost his earning power. Another Oakland outfielder, Craig Gentry, has been headed in the opposite direction and will return to Triple-A on an optional assignment to work out his struggles. Gentry, too, is playing out his second-to-last arb-eligible campaign.
Right-hander David Aardsma has a May 1 opt-out on his Minor League pact with the Dodgers, Jacob Unruh of NewsOK.com reported yesterday. Aardsma can opt out on Friday if another club wants him on its Major League roster, and he has a complete opt-out from the Dodgers on June 15, per Unruh. The 33-year-old veteran didn’t make the club’s bullpen out of Spring Training despite strong numbers, but he’s continued to pitch effectively, yielding one run on five hits with six strikeouts and no walks in seven Triple-A innings. Aardsma hasn’t logged significant big league action since 2013, but he pitched quite well for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate last year (1.48 ERA, 38-to-18 K/BB ratio in 37 innings) before a groin injury sidelined him for the season’s second half. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been surprisingly dominant despite incurring significant injuries, and with Kenley Jansen nearing a return, things will get even more crowded, further blocking Aardsma’s path to L.A. It wouldn’t be a shock for one of the many teams around the league in need of ‘pen help to look at the former Mariners closer as a potential upgrade.
Here’s more on the Dodgers…
- The Dodgers were involved in trade talks regarding Josh Hamilton before he was moved to the Rangers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the Dodgers were more interested in acting as a third party with the Angels and Rangers, contributing cash to the deal as a means of acquiring prospects to add to their farm system. The Dodgers also discussed a straight up deal to acquire Hamilton, according to Heyman, but even in that scenario they’d likely have just flipped Hamilton to the Rangers in the long run, as they weren’t interested in adding to their outfield glut. This marks another effort by the Dodgers’ new front office to use the team’s financial muscle to bolster the farm system in a unique way. The Dodgers already essentially bought a draft pick by agreeing to take on Ryan Webb‘s $2.75MM salary from the Orioles in order to convince Baltimore to part with a Competitive Balance draft selection.
- Left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu is at least a month away from rejoining the Dodgers’ roster, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted yesterday. The loss of Ryu for nearly two months and of Brandon McCarthy for the entire season has thinned out the Dodger rotation considerably, though president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman recently stated that he was likely to utilize internal options until at least June as he assessed what the team had in-house.
The Dodgers would consider acquiring a pitcher in his absence of starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, but likely only a depth move, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. On Sunday, the team sent Ryu to Los Angeles to see a doctor after he reported discomfort in the shoulder that ailed him at times last season. He will begin the season on the disabled list. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the team could potentially have interest in “more depth starting pitching, but that is no different than we have tried to get all offseason.”
They don’t sound optimistic in finding even that type of pitcher, ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon writes. “This is just a hard time to go out there and acquire starting pitching depth,” says GM Farhan Zaidi. “We’re fielding calls from teams that are asking us about our starting pitching depth, so there aren’t a lot of starting pitching sellers right now.”
The Dodgers have announced that they’ve shut down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation. He will be shut down for the next three days while the Dodgers determine the right course of action. Ryu had experienced shoulder tightness in his last start, during which his velocity was down. Ryu had similar shoulder issues last September, although he returned to pitch in the playoffs. There’s no indication yet that his current issues are serious, and Ryu (via a tweet from J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group) believes the injury should not keep him from being ready for the start of the season. The Dodgers could consider having him begin the season on the disabled list, however, as the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin tweets. The Dodgers don’t require a fifth starter until April 14. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- Yasmany Tomas chose the Diamondbacks over other teams in part because he liked their front office, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Giants were the runners-up in the bidding for Tomas, writes Piecoro. “At the end of the day, he said, ‘I really like those people,'” says agent Jay Alou of Diamondbacks execs Tony La Russa, Dave Stewart, De Jon Watson and Junior Noboa. “These are baseball people. They get it. I think Yasmany appreciates that.” After committing $68.5MM for Tomas, the Diamondbacks now appear to be quietly considering having Tomas start the season in the minors, although they offer guarded praise for his abilities. “I really believe that a number of us in the organization believe that he could hit,” says La Russa. “If we were short and he had to play, at the end of the year he would survive.”
- The Athletics‘ seemingly incongruous addition of Billy Butler in the offseason actually makes sense, Tony Blengino of FanGraphs writes. While Butler’s 2014 season wasn’t a good one, his underlying numbers suggest a player whose ability is closer to his .289/.374/.412 2013 season. Blengino suggests Butler has a decent chance of being as good as or better than Nelson Cruz next year, although the two players’ offensive profiles are quite different.
- The Rangers‘ prospects give the team a bright future, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The team still has Jorge Alfaro, Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, Keone Kela and to power-hitting prospect Joey Gallo in big-league camp. “I think they are still getting something out of being here,” says GM Jon Daniels. “Some of these guys are not very far away at all.” Relief prospect Kela has wowed scouts with his stuff, Grant says — Kela can throw 100 MPH and now also has a quality breaking ball.
The Dodgers acquisition of Brandon Beachy could lead to a trade, writes Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Beachy will open the season on the disabled list, so his presence could be purely for depth purposes. However, if everybody is healthy when he’s ready to contribute, the team could consider dealing Zack Greinke or Hyun-jin Ryu. Greinke may opt out after the season which could make him expendable. A trade of Ryu seems unlikely since he can void his contract if dealt (via Twitter). Here’s more from out west.
- The Dodgers and catcher Ali Solis have split ways over a contractual issue, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Details are unknown at this time. Solis was a non-roster invite to the big league camp. He’s appeared briefly with the Padres and Rays, accruing 11 plate appearances in the process. He’s a career .243/.291/.363 hitter over his nine season minor league career.
- Padres pitchers Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow are familiar with rapid rebuilds, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Both players were with the Blue Jays in 2013 when they were picked to win the division. The team fizzled and finished last in the AL East. Johnson also experienced the 2012 rebuild of the Marlins. Both players point to chemistry and cohesiveness as an important missing element. Only time will tell if the Padres can bond together.
- Every team has a player in the best shape of his life. One such to watch may be Mariners slugger Jesus Montero, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo. The once-prospect dropped 45 pounds from the hefty 275 he weighed last spring. Per manager Lloyd McClendon, “I think he’s in a much better place as a human being…The baseball skills, we’ll see.”