Dodgers introduce lefty Hyun-jin Ryu
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers' newest pitcher, Hyun-jin Ryu, was explaining his desire to improve his English in order to talk to his new teammates when team co-owner Magic Johnson piped in with some advice for Ryu's interpreter.
"Just tell him to throw strikes and he'll communicate properly," Johnson said.
The Dodgers held a news conference to introduce Ryu on Monday, the day after signing him to a six-year, $36 million contract. The former Korean league star set some lofty goals for himself entering his first season in the major leagues: double digit wins, a two-something ERA and eventually eclipsing Chan Ho Park's record 124 victories for a Korean pitcher.
That would work out just fine for the Dodgers, who also anounced Monday night they have signed former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million deal. Greinke is scheduled to be introduced at a Tuesday news conference. Greinke's deal was pending the results of a physical.
As part of Ryu's contract, the Dodgers will not be able to demote the 25-year-old to the minor leagues if he struggles. Such clauses are not unusual when teams sign high-profile players from Japan or Korea.
The Dodgers called Park -- a 17-year major league veteran who signed with the Dodgers out of high school 19 years ago -- to get his scouting report on Ryu, a teammate on the Hanwha Eagles last season.
"He said this kid has a chance to be really good," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "He's youthful, but he's got great stuff, great competitiveness and a great feel for pitching."
Negotiations with Ryu's agent, Scott Boras, went down to the "final seconds," according to Colletti.
As the Dodgers and Ryu were speaking at a news conference jam-packed with members of the Korean media, construction crews were digging up parts of Dodger stadium as part of major stadium renovations. The Dodgers are building new clubhouses, weight rooms and players' lounges, as well as improving some of the stadium's infrastructure.
"You can see the $100 million we put into the stadium as well. We're not messing around," Johnson said.
Including the $25.7 million posting fee they will pay to Ryu's Korean team, the Dodgers agreed to take on $208.7 million in contracts just in the past three days. Their payroll likely will top $225 million next April and they have taken on more than $600 million in salary obligations since an ownership change last spring.