So, today at 4 PM CT, which was 7 AM in Korea, bids were due on Ryu Hyun-Jin and we’re waiting on the results. (If he’s going to play over here, I should probably start calling him Hyun-Jin Ryu.) Everything’s already done, then, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy some meaningless (and ridiculous speculation.)
Though there have been a heavy handful of Korean players who have appeared in MLB, and a smaller number who have had meaningful careers, stateside, all of them have either been drafted out of high school or college, or signed as free agents after their KBO contracts were up. That makes Ryu the first KBO player to go through the posting system.
The top bid also has to meet a certain number set by Ryu and his KBO team, the Hanwha Eagles, to be accepted, and I have no idea a) what that is, b) whether MLB teams were willing to meet it, or c) whether they should have been willing to meet it. I do think most of the NPB players who have been posted have done pretty well, though they probably all failed to live up to the hype – except Yu Darvish so far. The KBO is a different story, as it’s a weaker league, and it definitely has the reputation of having better hitters than pitchers.
Ryu, though is an excellent case for a first big-time KBO posting deal. Ryu has had some ups- and downs, as well as Tommy John surgery, but what he does have is strikeouts. Ryu is 25 and has 1,235 KBO strikeouts, in 7 seasons. In those 7 seasons, he has 5 strikeout titles. He seems to have stepped up his game this year a bit, not totally unlike Darvish in 2011. His career K/9 rate is just under 9, but this year, it’s over 10, with 210 Ks in 182 2/3 innings. Keith Law ranked him as the 37th best free agent of the off-season, and prefers him as a lefty-reliever, considering his low (for MLB) velocity and possible durability issues.
So, even though it’s totally ridiculous, here are my top three reasons I think the Reds won the bidding process for Ryu Hyun-Jin.
1. There has been absolutely no indication that the Reds or Walt Jocketty has any interest in Ryu Hyun-Jin. This news source claims that a variety of teams have expressed interest in Ryu – including the Indians, Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, and Red Sox. He’s also shown no interest in any other Asian league pitchers. But just when you think that Walt Jocketty has no interest in a player, that’s when Walt strikes! I mean, think about it: last year, I was flabbergasted at the report that the Reds were talking to Ryan Madson, and like, 24 hours later, the deal was done. There was a similar lack of forewarning about the Marshall deal as well. So, clearly Walt’s just luring the rest of the league into a false sense of security about Ryu.
2. The big kerfluffle around Redsland is the possible move of Aroldis Chapman to the rotation. Well, if Aroldis becomes a starter, we’ll need another lefty reliever in the pen, right? And Keith Law thinks Ryu Hyun-Jin should be a reliever…. wait for it….wait for it… A-HA! Ryu could take Chapman’s place in the bullpen!
3. When we totally, 100% definitely (kind of unlikely) trade for Shin-soo Choo, Ryu can keep him company on the roster as a fellow Korean-person. Man, this is all coming together so neatly, isn’t it? (Apparently, Choo and Ryu are both on an upcoming episode of Running Man, a Korean Celebrity-Reality-Game Show(?))
**As a bonus, with two Koreans on the team, surely, Joey Votto will want to learn Korean as well, to help out with team relations, right? I volunteer to teach Joey Votto Korean. I mean, I don’t actually speak (or read, or understand) Korean, but me and Joey can hang out and watch k-dramas together, and that is totally the same thing.