Hyun-Jin Ryu has been one of baseball’s best pitchers this season, and with a trip to free agency pending, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand speaks to several rival executives about how Ryu will fare on the open market this winter. It should be noted that Ryu sidestepped a chance at free agency last offseason by accepting a one-year, $17.9MM qualifying offer from the Dodgers, preferring to remain in L.A. and aim for a better platform year than his injury-shortened 2018 campaign. That strategy has worked like gangbusters, as Ryu has a 1.64 ERA, 1.1 BB/9 (both league bests), 7.00 K/BB rate, and 50.7% grounder rate over 148 1/3 frames in 2019, with only two minimal injured list stints for relatively minor issues.
With this in mind, Ryu’s long injury history and age (he’ll be 33 on Opening Day 2020) will also certainly be factors in his next contract. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes placed Ryu seventh in his most recent power ranking of the 2019-20 free agent class, though one NL executive tells Feinsand that depending on whether some players exercise opt-out clauses or not, Ryu is “probably No. 2 if his contract ask is reasonable….This could be an interesting class to watch. It might be one of those years where teams rank guys differently based on who they like.” Gerrit Cole is the undisputed top pitcher available this winter, but other arms like Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, or Dallas Keuchel have also seemingly generated more buzz than Ryu, recent results notwithstanding. An AL talent evaluator thinks this could be to Ryu’s benefit, telling Feinsand that Ryu “may actually be viewed slightly lower than some in that group perceptually, and therefore, sign earlier. I can see Ryu signing ahead of them and jumping the market and actually getting a better deal. I think the other guys may wait longer, and waiting longer hasn’t always paid off.”
Here’s more on the Dodgers…
- Dustin May is in line for another start next week, manager Dave Roberts told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick and other reporters, though May will also make relief appearances to get him more acclimated to working out of the bullpen. This semi-swingman usage is being deployed since the Dodgers ultimately intend to use May as a reliever in the postseason, though also need him available to make a spot start if necessary down the stretch. For instance, L.A. is two games into a run of 16 games in 16 days, so May’s start next week will give the regular rotation members a breather. “When you have a person of Dustin’s head, mindset, it makes it a better bet for us to make and especially when you have the buy-in of the player….We’re going to continue to keep our options open,” Roberts said. May has started three of his four big league appearances thus far, posting a 4.26 ERA, 7.1 K/9, and 5.00 K/BB rate over 19 total innings.
- In another case of the Dodgers making early preparations for October, the team will use Kenley Jansen roughly once per series for the remainder of the season, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. This means Jansen will be skipped for some save situations and pitch in some non-save situations, all in order to keep him regularly sharp rather than tether this workload to whether or not the Dodgers have a ninth-inning lead. It’s worth wondering if this strategy could also have to do with Jansen’s somewhat shaky performance this year, as the closer has a career-high 3.70 ERA over 48 2/3 innings. Jansen blew his sixth save chance of the season last night, and now has 26 saves in 32 chances.
- Roberts provided DiGiovanna and other reporters with updates on some injured Dodgers players. Ross Stripling (right biceps tendinitis) seems the closest to returning, as he tossed a 25-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday and has a two-inning simulated game coming up before he begins a rehab assignment. Rich Hill (flexor tendon strain) has upped his long-toss throwing to 150 feet and will next start throwing off a mound. Hill isn’t expected back until sometime in September, though his path to a return is clearer than that of Alex Verdugo, as Roberts said Verdugo is still feeling pain in his ribcage and hasn’t yet resumed baseball activities. Verdugo has been on the IL since August 6 due to a right oblique strain, and Roberts said the outfielder won’t return to action until at least the start of September.