The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to be without left-handed pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu for the foreseeable future. Ryu, 28 years old, will undergo shoulder surgery and the team isn't exactly sure what they're going to find. While two MRI's showed no tears or structural damage to the shoulder, any surgery in this area is bad news.
There's no timetable on Ryu's return, but this operation will make it difficult for him to pitch this season. In his career, Ryu has pitched 344 total innings with a 3.17 ERA, along with a 7.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. He's made the transition from the KBO to MLB extraordinarily well, but has dealt with injury throughout his short career. The Dodgers signed him to a six-year, $36 million contract out of Korea in winter of 2012, and unfortunately appear to have lost one of those years.
Further compounding the issue is that the Dodgers are already without Brandon McCarthy, who tore his UCL earlier this year. McCarthy was one of the Dodgers key free agent acquisitions, and signed him to a four-year, $48 million contract. With Ryu and McCarthy both out, it comes as no surprise that the Dodgers could turn to the trade market for a starting pitching upgrade.
Who will the Dodgers Target?
When talking about the starting pitching market, the top two names that come to mind are Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto. Most teams in the majors are unable to afford the price in dollars and prospects, but the Dodgers are flush with both.
An overcrowded infield gives the Dodgers a horde of trade chips. Alexander Guerrero, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Uribe and Justin Turner could all be on the block, and that doesn't even include top minor league prospects Corey Seager and Erisbel Arruebarrena. They also just officially signed Cuban infielder Hector Olivera to a six year 62.5 million dollar contract. A new found need for a starter combined with deep pockets and ample talent to trade make the Dodgers seem like a perfect fit for Hamels or Cueto.
What's the most likely course?
The Dodgers may view their pitching problem as a relatively short term issue however, which would dramatically alter their aggressiveness in the trade market. It would likely rule them out of a Hamels-type deal, but there are no indications of that happening just yet.
What seems more likely is the Dodgers get a second-tier pitcher as a temporary fix, like Scott Kazmir.
The Dodgers are 24-13 and sit atop the NL West standings. The Giants have regained a lot of ground since the beginning of the season, and are now just 2.5 games behind LA. The Padres are only one game under .500, and still may make a trade to upgrade their shortstop position. With at least two teams other than the Dodgers capable of winning the division, Andrew Friedman will need to stay alert.
Their current stopgap rotation includes Brett Anderson, Mike Bolsinger, and Carlos Frias. While they've done a good job overall thus far, they're not a long-term solution. As the season wears on, the Dodgers should look to add another quality veteran arm to join Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. If the Dodgers want to be a able to make a deep October run, they'll need a solid third pitcher.