Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Timing is everything with Ryu Hyun-jin
By Mark Saxon
The other day, someone asked general manager Ned Colletti whether he thought Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin could slide into the No. 2 or 3 spot in the Dodgers' rotation next season.
"Not sure," Colletti said.
Added team president Stan Kasten: "Now, remember, everything he says, Scott Boras is going to read."
Bidding $25.7 million for the rights to talk to Ryu is only the first step in acquiring him and maybe not the most difficult. The Dodgers have until Dec. 10 to work out a contract with Boras. If not, Ryu returns to the Korean league and the Dodgers get their posting fee back.
Lucky for the Dodgers, baseball's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., wrap up Dec. 6, meaning the Dodgers can survey the rest of the pitching talent available to them before making a final call on Ryu. Boras tends to take negotiations to the final hour anyway, so it works out well for both sides.
Ryu, 25, is a riskier option than a major-league free agent because his numbers were posted against Korean professional talent, rather than major-league talent. But he could also prove a relative bargain, believe it or not. There has been speculation that Zack Greinke could command a contract of $120 million or more and even second-tier starters are said to be asking for $15 million a year or more.
The Dodgers didn’t go into the posting process blind, far from it. Their assistant general manager for scouting, Logan White, had been following him for years and Bob Engle, the recently hired top international scout, had seen him pitch multiple times while working for the Seattle Mariners.
Ryu is a left-handed pitcher with a 90-mph fastball and an excellent changeup. He's listed as 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds. Pressed for a major-league comparison, Engle came up with David Wells.
"I'm not associating his ability to David Wells', but he is someone who can definitely come in and be a contributor with a major-league club almost immediately," Engle said. "He's big, somewhat on the rotund side."
Signing Ryu also wouldn't hurt the Dodgers' efforts at rebuilding fan loyalty. Los Angeles has the largest Korean population of any city in the United States, with more than 200,000 people of Korean descent, according to the 2010 census.