Although Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg are the top starting pitchers available in free agency, the market additionally includes quality options in Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Wheeler.
Ryu is coming off a career season, recently finishing second in the National League Cy Young voting behind Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets.
The 32-year-old has dealt with a number of injuries in his career, which forced him to bet on himself and accept the qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers last offseason instead of testing free agency.
The decision proved to be a good one as he had a healthy 2019 season, making 29 starts and going 14-5 with a Major-League-leading 2.32 ERA to go along with a 3.10 FIP and 1.01 WHIP with 163 strikeouts and 24 walks in 182.2 innings.
Ryu now hits the open market as perhaps the third-best starter available, and he is expected to sign a lucrative contract. Ryu is believed to be seeking a three- or four-year deal and despite a desire to return to the Dodgers, the two sides aren’t yet believed to have engaged in serious negotiations.
If Ryu does not re-sign with the Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels could become a factor, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic:
He’d prefer to stay with the Dodgers, but if they decide to go in another direction, a move south to the Angels would become probable.
It is no secret the Angels are looking for pitching this offseason. They have already been linked to Cole, who is an Orange County native, but Ryu could be a solid option for them if they strikeout on the biggest fish.
The Dodgers are going into 2020 with some solid starting pitching depth in place after the emergence of a pair of rookies in Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin this year. If they lose both Ryu and Rich Hill in free agency, they will likely be in the market for a starter or two to add to that depth.
Considering the Dodgers have been unwilling to give starting pitchers of Cole’s and Strasburg’s caliber the long-term contracts they are seeking, it would be surprising if they did so for either of them this winter.
That is why Ryu returning on a three-year deal is currently the most likely scenario for Los Angeles unless they trade for another controllable starter.
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