The Los Angeles Dodgers say they’re looking forward to watching Ryu Hyun-jin pitch for them after signing the top South Korean left-hander to a six-year deal worth a reported $36-million on Sunday.
“We are excited to welcome Ryu Hyun-jin to Los Angeles and the United States, continuing the tradition of Korean pitchers with the Dodger organization,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement.
“The Dodgers continue to show the commitment to signing players from Asia and other international areas where baseball is played at the highest levels. We are looking forward to watching Ryu pitch for the franchise.”
The Dodgers confirmed they had inked Ryu to a six-year deal, although their statement did not mention the $36-million worth of the contract reported by mlb.com.
The Ryu deal beat the afternoon deadline to end the 30-day exclusive negotiating window that the Dodgers had won by posting a fee of $25.7-million, which will now go to Ryu’s Korean team, the Hanwha Eagles.
That was reportedly the third-largest posting fee for such negotiating rights, following Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish’s worth $51.7-million and his compatriot Daisuke Matsuzaka’s, worth $51.1-million.
The Boston Red Sox eventually gave gave Matsuzaka a six-year, $52-million contract. The Texas Rangers inked Darvish to a six-year, $60-million contract.
Ryu has spent his entire seven-year professional career in Korea, compiling a 98-52 record with a 2.80 earned run average.
He also helped South Korea to a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by going 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in two starts.
Ryu was the first player to win the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year honours in the same season in Korea, when he went 18-6.
He averaged 15 wins a season until this year, when the Eagles finished last and he had only nine wins, along with a 2.66 ERA.
Word that the Dodgers had reached agreement with Ryu came amid reports that they were close to reaching terms with prized free agent pitcher Zack Greinke.
USA Today reported that Greinke and the Dodgers had agreed on a six-year, $147-million deal, subject to Greinke passing a physical exam.
If that deal goes through, Ryu would potentially be joining a starting pitching rotation that includes two Cy Young Award-winners in Clayton Kershaw and Greinke, along with top hurlers Chad Billingsley and Josh Becket.
When he makes his Dodgers debut, Ryu will become the 14th South Korean to play in Major League Baseball and the fourth to play for the Dodgers after Choi Hee-Seop, Seo Jae and Park Chan Ho.
Park became the first Korean to play in the Majors when he made his debut in 1994.
“Congratulations to the Dodgers and Ryu on this great signing,” Park said in a statement released by the club. “I’m excited to see him carry on the tradition of great international pitchers in Dodger blue and have Ryu represent Korean baseball in the United States.”