The Dodgers announced that left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu underwent an arthroscopic left elbow debridement earlier today. The southpaw is expected to be ready for the 2017 season, according to the team.
Ryu, 29, had a brief return to the Majors in 2016 after missing the entire 2015 campaign due to shoulder surgery. Though he did make it back to the mound with the Dodgers this season, his return lasted for just one start — a 4 2/3 inning effort in which he yielded six runs on eight hits and two walks back on July 7. That represented his only big league work since Sept. 12, 2014.
Originally signed to a six-year, $36MM contract out of Korea (plus a $25.7MM posting fee), Ryu looked to be worth the investment for the Dodgers after a brilliant rookie season in 2013 and a strong sophomore effort in 2014. The former Hanwha Eagles standout finished fourth in 2013 Rookie of the Year voting after logging 192 innings of 3.00 ERA ball with 7.2 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 and followed that up with a similarly excellent 3.38 ERA across 152 innings a year later. While the second two seasons of that six-year pact certainly haven’t gone as the Dodgers had hoped, Ryu still has another two seasons of cheap club control remaining. He’s owed just $7MM in each of the next two seasons — a manageable sum for virtually any club but especially the deep-pocketed Dodgers — though he’ll obviously fall shy of the requisite 750 innings (2013-17) that would allow him to opt out of his contract and test the free agent market a year early.
Most likely, the Dodgers aren’t banking on a full, healthy season for Ryu as they map out their 2017 season, but Los Angeles has built a virtually unprecedented staff in terms of overall pitching depth this year (as The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh recently profiled at length in an excellent piece), and it’s likely that they’ll do the same in 2017. Ryu joins Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy as pitchers that are already guaranteed contracts next season (though Kazmir does technically have an opt-out clause, even if he’s unlikely to exercise it), and the Dodgers also have Alex Wood, Jose De Leon, Julio Urias, Carlos Frias, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling under control either via arbitration or as pre-arb rotation options. Nonetheless, they’ll also presumably be active on both the free agent and trade markets this winter as they look to remain atop the National League West.