“Of course, the current Ryu Hyun-jin is not the same pitcher as the old Ryu Hyun-jin, but he is a player who can occupy the last spot
(5th starter) in San Diego’s starting rotation.”
On the 21st (Korean time), the American sports media ‘Sports Illustrated (SI)’ selected the San Diego Padres as a suitable destination for free agent left-handed starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin (37).
San Diego currently has two solid starting pitchers in Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove.
Darvish had an elbow injury last year, but was responsible for 8 wins, and Musgrove has been a 10-win pitcher for three consecutive years starting in 2021.
However, starting from the 3rd starting position, there are full of question marks.
In addition, San Diego currently has two Korean players, including infielder Kim Ha-seong (29) and bullpen pitcher Ko Woo-seok (26). 지울프-토토
If Ryu Hyun-jin joins, a very unusual event will occur where three Korean players play together for one major league club.
SI recommended Ryu Hyun-jin, saying, ‘The veteran left-hander returned last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and appeared in 11 games for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ryu Hyun-jin recorded 3 wins, 3 losses, 52 innings, and an average ERA of 3.58. Ryu Hyun-jin is still a capable starting pitcher and could help strengthen San Diego’s starting lineup.
He explained, “Ryu Hyun-jin can add a little more veteran experience to San Diego’s starting lineup,
which is an element that San Diego has been desperately looking for.”
He continued, ‘Of course, Ryu Hyun-jin may not be the same pitcher as he used to be,
but he is a player who can occupy the last spot in San Diego’s starting rotation. It doesn’t cost that much to sign Ryu Hyun-jin.
He added, “Ryu Hyun-jin is definitely a name to watch closely for the rest of the winter.”
Since Ryu Hyun-jin entered the free agent market this winter, the American media has consistently evaluated him as “still a competitive pitcher.”
Although there are concerns about his health due to his age in his late 30s and past injuries,
Ryu Hyun-jin’s outstanding control and skillful game management ability have been sufficiently proven over the past 10 years.
In 2019, while with the LA Dodgers, he had the best season of his career, recording 29 games, 14 wins, 5 losses, 182⅔ innings, 163 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.32.
He had the highest earned run average among all major league pitchers.
He was named an All-Star that year for the first and only time in his career, and finished second in the final National League Cy Young Award voting.
Of course, Ryu Hyun-jin may not be able to return at this time, but he is maintaining enough performance to be a 4th or 5th starter in the big league.
In addition, the American media evaluates Ryu Hyun-jin as a player who can sign a short-term contract of 1 to 2 years with an annual salary of about 10 million dollars (about 13.3 billion won).
Ryu Hyun-jin’s strength in the current market is that the cost and risk are very low. It is good if Ryu Hyun-jin achieves good results at a low cost, and even if Ryu Hyun-jin performs poorly,
there is no need to take a big loss. Ryu Hyun-jin is clearly an attractive free agent for a team that needs to strengthen its starting pitcher depth.
There was another media outlet in San Diego that recommended Ryu Hyun-jin. A month ago,
the East Village Times, a local newspaper in San Diego, USA, said, ‘San Diego is in desperate need of a pitcher.
Even though many pitchers were brought in through the Juan Soto trade, only the front of the starting rotation has weight and lacks depth.
He argued, “The addition of Ryu Hyun-jin will add stability and experience to the middle of the starting rotation (4th to 5th starters).”
He continued, ‘Ryu Hyun-jin has been struggling with injuries since 2021. Between 2022 and 2023, he will only start 17 games and pitch 79 innings.
In the middle of the 2022 season, he underwent Tommy John surgery, and was not able to return until the second half of the season.
Still, when Ryu Hyun-jin returned from injury, he pitched very well.
He started 11 games and recorded an earned run average of 3.46 and 123 ERA+ (adjusted earned run average, 100 is the baseline). ‘
If Ryu Hyun-jin can repeat this performance full-time in 2024, he will become one of the most solid middle-level starting pitchers,’ he emphasized.
San Diego was unable to retain left-handed ace Blake Snell, who won the National League Cy Young Award last year, with an extension contract.
This is because they began to reduce their size this winter by implementing a policy to reduce their payroll
(total annual salary of the players). Not only Snell but also closing pitcher Josh Hader could not be tied.
Hader agreed to a five-year, $95 million (approximately 127 billion won) contract with the Houston Astros on the 20th and was promised the best treatment ever for a bullpen pitcher.
Juan Soto, the league’s top outfielder, was traded to the New York Yankees. While all the key players were leaving,
San Diego worked hard to collect low-cost free agents such as Ko Woo-seok (2 years, $4.5 million) and Matsui Yuki (5 years, $28 million).
Ryu Hyun-jin is a card that fits well with this team’s tone.
There are more teams that may be interested in Ryu Hyun-jin. On the 19th, ‘
New York Post’ columnist John Heyman, a major league representative source, selected San Diego,
New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, and Pittsburgh Pirates as teams that need to strengthen their starting pitcher depth.
Heyman said, ‘Boston, San Diego, Washington, Baltimore, Seattle, and Pittsburgh are considered the most active teams in the second-grade starting pitcher market, which includes Ryu Hyun-jin,
James Paxton, and Michael Lorenzen. However, there is no indication that they have expressed genuine interest,’ he predicted, adding that the market situation needs to be watched further.
There is also an opinion that in order for semi-level starting pitchers to move actively,
free agent big-time starting pitchers such as Snell and Jordan Montgomery need to find a destination quickly.
The American media pointed out the particularly frustrating pace of the free agent market this winter, and some even voiced the need to set a deadline for free agent contracts.
The pace of signing contracts not only for Ryu Hyun-jin but also for free agents in general is slow.
Anyway, since there is demand for Ryu Hyun-jin, he has no choice but to wait calmly.
If Ryu Hyun-jin moves according to the opinions of SI and the East Village Times,
San Diego is expected to become a club that receives greater attention from Korean baseball fans than it does now.