Ryu Hyun-jin’s 36-year-old destination is still in limbo.
After completing a four-year, 80 million-dollar contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after the end of the 2023 season, he became a free agent. Two months have passed since then, but no word has been heard about his contract.
Ryu Hyun-jin’s worth in the U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB) market is not without him. MLB.COM wrote on the 18th (Korea time), “Ryu’s best days are definitely over, but there is still hope that he will become a strong starting pitcher.” Currently, many teams want Ryu’s starting pitcher. John Hayman, columnist for the New York Post, said on the 18th that the second-class FA starting pitcher market will heat up over the next seven to 10 days.
Earlier, The Athletic reported on the 15th that “Baltimore needs a veteran ace. There is also a lack of innings eater that can replace Kyle Gibson, who threw 192 innings in the 2023 season,” adding, “General manager Mike Elias can strengthen the starting lineup by recruiting Ryu Hyun-jin and other ‘Grade 2’ FA.”
Many argue that teams that have already hired starting pitchers should subscribe to the same insurance policy as Ryu Hyun-jin. MLB.COM also introduced a video interview with David Stearns, the president of the Mets’ baseball operations division, on the 12th, predicting that the Mets could consider recruiting low-grade pitchers such as Ryu Hyun-jin if the price drops. At the time, Stearns said, “(Recruitment of players) is not over yet. We need pitchers, especially starting pitchers, endlessly.”
The same applies to the San Francisco Giants, who recently announced their plan to start after recruiting fastball bullpen pitcher Jordan Hicks. MLB Trade Rumors, which deals with news of the relocation, also said, “Hicks will add another question mark to the starting lineup, which is full of uncertainties. Given the instability of the starting lineup, it makes sense to reinforce rotation. It is still possible to recruit additional proven starting pitchers within the budget,” he said, classifying Ryu as an “intermediate option.”
They still share the same view with the Hanwha Eagles. If Ryu Hyun-jin expresses his intention to return to Hanwha, he will seek a contract, but he will only wait until then. Hanwha’s general manager Son Hyuk returned home on the evening of July 18 after finishing his overseas work. Ryu is currently in Okinawa, Japan, for individual training with Hanwha juniors including Jang Min-jae and Lee Tae-yang. “Players who participated in the training in Okinawa will return to Korea next week,” a Hanwha source said. Hanwha will start off-season training in Melbourne, Australia from February 1.
Hanwha has already finalized its starting lineup. Foreign pitchers Felix Peña and Ricardo Sanchez, both of whom played last year, have renewed their contracts. Rookie of the Year Moon Dong-ju also plans to throw innings or more. All three pitchers can expect ERA and 10 wins in the mid-three-point range. Peña and Sanchez have changeups, while Moon has the fastest fastballs (160.1 km/h at maximum) in the league, displaying competitive edge and variety.
However, all of them are close to second-starters, rather than first-starters. Hanwha actually tried to find a foreign pitcher to serve as its first starting pitcher this winter, but failed. Peña is concerned about his pollen allergy and fluctuations in his ball control in April. Sanchez was sluggish in nine games from July to August with two wins, five losses and a 5.51 ERA. Moon also has his own risks, having to overcome his “second-year jinx.” If Ryu is added, the team can develop into a completely different level.
Hanwha’s disappearance as the first starter was a long time ago. The last time that Ryu Hyun-jin recorded a WAR (contribution to victory over substitute) of 6.54 based on Statistics was in fact the last time in 2012. Chad Bell (4.49) and Warwick Saupold (4.22) were among the top players in the league in 2019, but they showed sluggish performance again the following year. 랭크카지노도메인
After Ryu left for the MLB, Hanwha spent tens of billions of won to recruit FA for each position. However, Jung Geun-woo (second baseman), Lee Yong-gyu (center fielder), Jung Woo-ram (finisher), Chae Eun-seong (right fielder), and An Chi-hong (second baseman) were the only big players to recruit. Even if they wanted to buy a starting pitcher who is expected to win more than 10 games, they could not afford to buy one.
SSG Landers has already proved the ace power of major leaguers in 2022. SSG, which was the lowest with a WAR of 2.42, changed 180 degrees in 2022 when Kim Kwang-hyun returned. Kim Kwang-hyun took the center stage in the rotation and eventually won the combined title. This is why Hanwha, which aims to seek autumn baseball with investment for two consecutive years, is waiting for Ryu Hyun-jin.