While Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg stood out as the top-two free-agent starting pitchers, they were hardly the only ones to cash in with lucrative multi-year contracts this offseason.
Zack Wheeler inked a five-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, Madison Bumgarner joined the Arizona Diamondbacks on a five-year pact, and former Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu wound up signing a four-year, $90 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Dodgers were reportedly open to retaining Ryu on a four-year contract but at a lower average annual salary. He now heads north to join an up-and-coming Blue Jays team that is looking to contend as soon as this year.
There are some notable differences between the Dodgers and Blue Jays, one being that Ryu will have to change leagues for the first time in his career.
Despite this, Ross Stripling believes Ryu proved how talented he is, will thrive in Toronto and that his new teammates will quickly gravitate to him, via the “Big Swing Podcast“:
“He showed when he’s healthy he’s as good as anybody. Obviously really excited for him and his wife. She’s awesome. It’s a big change going from L.A. to Toronto, but I’m sure they have a Koreatown and he’ll go find it. He’s basically the LeBron James of Korea. He’ll fit right in, that’s a young team and they’ll love having him. He’s just the happiest go lucky dude ever. We’ll miss him for sure — both on and off the field — but obviously really excited for him.”
After a solid, but injury-ridden 2018 campaign, Ryu bet on himself to replicate that success over a larger sample size by returning to the Dodgers via the one-year qualifying offer this past season.
Despite a couple of brief stints on the injured list, Ryu was one of the more effective pitchers in all of baseball, posting the lowest ERA among qualifying starters en route to a second-place finish in National League Cy Young Award voting.
The 32-year-old was a beloved member of the Dodgers clubhouse, as evidenced by Walker Buehler and Justin Turner wishing him well on social media.
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