The Blue Jays have signed left-handed starter Hyun-jin Ryu to a four-year deal worth $80 million, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was the first to report on Sunday night:
Breaking: Ryu to Jays. 80M, 4 years.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2019
Ryu, a longtime Dodger who will be 33 in March, is the biggest addition yet to a remodeled Blue Jays rotation that figures to be decent in 2020, even after Toronto dealt ace Marcus Stroman to the Mets for a pair of mid-level prospects prior to the trade deadline. He’ll join fellow free-agent addition Tanner Roark, offseason trade acquisition Chase Anderson, veteran Matt Shoemaker — a free-agent acquisition last offseason who pitched in just five games before suffering a season-ending torn ACL — and whichever young starter wins a competition for the fifth spot in the rotation, whether that be Trent Thornton, Ryan Borucki, Jacob Waguespack, T.J. Zeuch, Anthony Kay, or top prospect Nate Pearson.
Adding Ryu to the front of the rotation is a huge boost for the Blue Jays and perhaps puts them in position to surprise some folks next season. They almost certainly don’t have the talent to seriously compete with the Yankees for the AL East title, and they feel like a team that still doesn’t quite have the rotation depth to compete with the Red Sox, Rays, A’s, Rangers, Angels, and Indians for a wild-card spot in 2020. But this move undoubtedly makes them better, and if young position players like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can replicate their 2019 production, their offense should be pretty exciting next year. At this point, they may only be one really good pitcher away from being seriously competitive, whether that’s an outside addition or a young starter such as Pearson stepping up and turning into a legitimate front-of-the-rotation type to go along with Ryu.
Ryu was the starting pitcher for the NL All-Star team this past summer and is coming off a career year in which he posted a majors-best 2.32 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP, 163 strikeouts, and 24 walks over 29 starts (182.2 innings), so he obviously has the capability to be extremely impactful if healthy. With that said, health has been a struggle throughout his seven-year major-league career; he’s spent time on the disabled/injured list each season since coming to North America in 2013. He missed the entire 2015 season and made just one start in 2016 due to shoulder surgery and a subsequent case of elbow tendonitis. By pitching standards, he’s also been unusually susceptible to lower-body injuries, missing time during his major-league career due to a hip strain, a left hip contusion, a left hip contusion, and two separate left groin strains.
As ESPN’s Jeff Passan points out, the Blue Jays’ signing of Ryu — a Scott Boras client — officially pushes spending on clients of the veteran super agent to over $1 billion this offseason:
Cole: $324 million— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 23, 2019
Rendon: $245 million
Strasburg: $245 million
Ryu: $80 million
Moustakas: $64 million
Keuchel: $55.5 million
Watson: $3 million
The grand total for Scott Boras-negotiated deals this winter: $1,016,500,000 — now officially more than $1 billion.