In the 2020 American League Wild Card Game, Toronto’s Game 2 starter against Tampa Bay was “Ace” Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, the team’s most reliable starter. But three years later, in 2023, a lot was different.
For starters, a lot has happened to Ryu. In June 2022, he underwent Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his elbow ligaments (Tommy John surgery) and began a long-term rehabilitation.
In the meantime, the “ace” title had been passed to another player.
And Toronto invested aggressively to build a starting rotation that could survive a season without him.
After returning from his elbow rehab earlier than expected, Ryu went 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 11 starts, throwing 52 innings.
Considering he was coming off a year-plus absence, it was a successful comeback.
However, Toronto had at least three starters they could have used ahead of Ryu at this point, and ultimately Ryu’s name was left off the roster for the wild-card game.
With Toronto failing to advance to the division series, Ryu’s contract with Toronto ended.
Ryu is now eligible for his second, and technically third, free agency in the major leagues.
Ryu was eligible for free agency in 2018 when his six-year contract with his former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, ended.
However, he was still coming off of a shoulder injury rehabilitation, so he accepted the Dodgers’ qualifying offer and stayed with the team for another year.
After finishing second in the National League Cy Young Award voting in 2019, Ryu signed a four-year, $80 million free agent contract with Toronto ahead of the 2020 season.
He’s a free agent again this year.
One thing is certain.
He’s not likely to return to his hometown team, Hanwha.
Ryu went to the major leagues through the posting system (non-disclosure agreement) before the 2013 season.
According to the rules, if he were to return to the KBO, Hanwha would be his only option.
Ryu, who is very attached to Hanwha, has repeatedly stated that he will play the rest of his career with Hanwha. However, sources close to the situation say it’s not quite time yet.
Ryu is reportedly not considering a return to Hanwha at this point.
He hopes to play a little longer in the major leagues.
This means that he will return to Hanwha at some point, but not now.
While the team would love to have him back and be a pillar of their starting rotation, they are taking a wait-and-see approach.
It’s unlikely he’ll stay in Toronto.
That’s because of team structure.
Toronto has at least one year left on the contracts of four free agent starters in Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Yusei Kikuchi, and Chris Bassitt. Kikuchi’s contract ends next year.
Then there’s Alec Manoa, who struggled this year but still has high hopes.
You also have to think about the rookie starting pitchers coming up from the minors.
There’s no reason to sign Hyun-jin Ryu. In fact, there have been no concrete extension discussions.
But it’s not like he has to worry about finding a job. Ryu will be 37 years old next year.
However, he proved this year that he is free of elbow problems.
He also showed that he can still be competitive with his fastball.
Two years after elbow surgery is usually considered a recovery period, so there’s a good chance his velocity will improve next year if he’s ready from spring training.
A rebuilding team might want Ryu for a year or two as a starter, while a championship team might want him as a short-rotation option for a fourth or fifth starter.
The fact that the starting pitching market isn’t that rich these days means that he can still be valuable.
Even if you don’t have a stellar resume, you can still command $8-10 million per year as long as you have some experience as a starter. 카지노사이트
Teams looking to challenge for a title next year could take a gamble on Ryu’s experience and rebound potential.
These teams usually have 1-3 starters already in place.
The fourth and fifth spots are usually filled with short-term contracts, and Ryu fits the bill.
He’s unlikely to sign a long-term contract for more than three years, which makes it easier for teams to manage their future payroll.
If you use 140-150 innings as a benchmark, not necessarily the number of innings pitched, you’ll be able to determine if he’s a good enough pitcher.
There’s not a lot of demand for pitchers like him right now, so he could be a hot commodity at the right price point.
This means that Ryu can pick and choose his team. Ryu’s next uniform will be interesting to see.