Through the early weeks of free agency the Los Angeles Dodgers were linked to Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Stephen Strasburg, among others. It later was reported the bulk of their focus was on signing Cole, who ultimately joined the New York Yankees on a record contract.
Although many presumed the Dodgers would pivot to Ryu once Cole signed, they instead were said to have zeroed on Madison Bumgarner. He eventually signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, leaving Ryu as arguably the top starting pitcher available.
Despite public indications from Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman that the club was interested in a reunion, the 32-year-old wound up signing a four-year, $80 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times, it wasn’t necessarily years the Dodgers were hesitant to offer Ryu but the average annual value of the deal:
They were open to offering Ryu a four-year contract, but with a considerably lower average annual value than he received from the Blue Jays, according to a person familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.
The contract validates the gamble Ryu took last winter when he accepted the qualifying offer from the Dodgers. He was coming off a strong season but still faced some lingering injury concern.
Ryu built on the strong 2018 season by putting together a Cy Young Award-worthy campaign. He was the frontrunner for the award throughout much of the year and despite a second-place finish, boasted an MLB-best 2.32 ERA.
He went 54-33 with a 2.98 ERA, 3.32 FIP and 1.16 WHIP in 126 games (125 starts) over the seven seasons spent with the Dodgers (including 2015 lost to injury). This past season Ryu earned a first career All-Star Game selection and became the first South Korean born pitcher to start.
Ryu thanked fans for their several years of support and also received well wishes from former teammates Walker Buehler and Justin Turner.
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