Hyun-Jin Ryu has drawn looks from multiple teams this offseason, though the Dodgers have also considered a reunion and are “in” on the southpaw, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman writes (via Twitter). The Blue Jays and Twins are among the other clubs known to have some degree of interest in Ryu, who has pitched only for the Dodgers since coming to Major League Baseball prior to the 2013 season.
As Heyman notes, the Dodgers are also pursuing Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, so it could be that L.A. views Ryu as something of a fallback if both Cole and Strasburg sign elsewhere. Ryu isn’t exactly a bad consolation prize, coming off a season that saw him post a 2.32 ERA, 6.79 K/BB rate, and 8.0 K/9 over 182 2/3 innings and finish second in NL Cy Young voting. Then again, Ryu will also be 33 years old on Opening Day and comes with a lengthy injury history, placing something of a ceiling on his next contract. The left-hander entered the offseason hoping to land a three- or four-year contract, and MLBTR projected three years and $54MM in our ranking of the winter’s top 50 free agents (Ryu finished ninth in our listing).
Ryu accepted a qualifying offer to remain with Los Angeles last winter, which means that he can be signed by any team this offseason without any draft compensation tied to his services. That will increase the chances that he and agent Scott Boras can land that fourth year, as while teams might hesitate at committing to such an injury-plagued pitcher through his age-36 season, Ryu will only become more attractive to pitching-needy teams as other top arms drop off the board.
For instance, if the Dodgers do miss out on both Cole and Strasburg, they could opt to offer a fourth year to ensure that they can land at least Ryu and beat out other teams who didn’t sign the top two pitchers on the market. Or, a non-contender like the Blue Jays might be willing to offer the fourth year in order to lure Ryu to a team that isn’t lined up to compete in 2020. The added wrinkle to this entire situation is that Boras represents Ryu, Cole, Strasburg, and (another notable pitcher in the “second tier” of free agent arms) Dallas Keuchel, so the agent will have intimate knowledge of what teams are willing to offer his clients.