The Milwaukee Brewers still need to add to their rotation, and free agent Hyun-jin Ryu is the best option on the market. Should the Brewers look to sign Ryu or is he a stay away?
Zack Wheeler wanted to stay close to home. Madison Bumgarner wanted to stay near his horses. Dallas Keuchel…wanted…well, we’re not sure why he chose the Chicago White Sox. It probably had something to do with the three years plus the vesting option for the fourth year.
Hyun-jin Ryu is the last quality option remaining in free agency. Is there any chance the Brewers would offer him a deal for the years and dollars he’d want, or should the team look to the trade market?
How did Ryu perform in 2019?
Ryu only turned in the best season in his Major League career in 2019. Ryu made 29 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he managed a 2.32 ERA. In 182 2/3 innings of work, Ryu managed to strikeout 163, walk 24, and give up 17 homers. His 2019 campaign was good enough to come in second place for the National League Cy Young award.
Why isn’t he signed yet?
Probably because he’s either hoping for more years or more dollars…or both. It’s rumored that there are seven teams interested in Ryu right now, so his agent is likely still working the market and hoping that someone gets desperate or goes over the top.
Should the Brewers be ‘in’ on Ryu?
If Ryu were only looking for a three-year deal, it would make sense for the Brewers to be in on him. However, he’s likely demanding a deal close to what Bumgarner got, and that valuation is likely too high for Brewers GM David Stearns.
Ryu has not one, but two Tommy John surgeries on his resume, and he spent 2014 through 2018 battling injuries before finally staying healthy last year. The best predictor of future injury is past injury, and Ryu has a really checkered injury history. He’ll also turn 33 years old before he throws a pitch in a 2020 regular season game, and he’s been throwing as a professional since he was 19 years old. He’s got a lot more mileage on his left shoulder than most starters should at age-33, and it’s entirely possible that he spends significant time on the Injured List in the next few years.
Ryu would look great on paper slotting in behind starter Brandon Woodruff in the Milwaukee Brewers rotation, but his pitch counter and injury history make him a stay away. A four-year deal with a larger average annual value for a player with his history could look really ugly by 2024. The Brewers are much better off looking for other options in the trade market and taking a few fliers on reclamation projects through free agency than they are investing years and dollars in Ryu.