Hyun-Jin Ryu: Accepting Qualifying Offer From Dodgers In Free Agency ‘Wasn’t Difficult’ Decision

After a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder sidelined him for two seasons and put his future in doubt, Hyun-Jin Ryu revived his career. He returned to the field in 2017, made the Los Angeles Dodgers’ postseason rotation in 2018 and has established himself as the team’s ace this year.

While the Dodgers’ entire rotation has performed well lately, Ryu’s 1.78 ERA leads the Majors and his 0.93 WHIP is best in the National League. He has pitched at least six innings in 13 of his last 14 starts, which includes a complete-game shutout of the Atlanta Braves on May 7.

It is easy to forget now, but there was some doubt after the 2018 season whether Ryu would ever pitch another game for the Dodgers. He became a free agent in an uncertain market and was tendered a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer by the Dodgers.

Although Ryu is represented by Scott Boras, the star agent who is known to make his players hold out for better deals, the southpaw said the decision to accept the Dodgers’ offer and bet on himself was an easy one, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“To be honest, it wasn’t a difficult decision,” Ryu said through his interpreter. “Knowing the amount of money that was on the line was significant and it was way more than what I was making, I did put some time towards thinking about it and also obviously had Scott Boras, my agent, and people around me helping.”

Ryu’s salary is more than $10 million than what he made in 2018, the final year of his initial contract signed with the Dodgers. He performed well in the second half last year and into the postseason, even starting Game 1 of the NL Division Series over Clayton Kershaw.

Still, Ryu may not have received a more lucrative contract had he chosen to hit the open market. Dallas Keuchel, another Boras client, was a victim of the free-agent freeze despite winning a Cy Young Award with the Houston Astros in 2015 and a World Series in 2017.

Despite the recent trends of slow free agency, though, Ryu could command a massive deal this winter.

Several contending teams have needs on their pitching staff, including the Dodgers’ most recent opponent, the Philadelphia Phillies.

While some of those roster holes may be plugged via a midseason trade, postseason hopefuls will likely be lining up this winter to steal one of the best players from what has been the best teams in baseball over the past several seasons.