The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly bolstered their starting rotation for 2020. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Jays have agreed to a four-year, million deal with free agent pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu. The team has not yet confirmed the signing. The veteran left-hander had spent his entire career with the Dodgers, first arriving in Los Angeles in 2013.
Ryu slots at the top of the Blue Jays’ rotation heading into 2020, in front of Chase Anderson and Tanner Roark, who agreed to a two-year, million contract with Toronto earlier in free agency. . This is their rotation depth chart at the moment:
The Angels, Athletics, Brewers, and Twins stand out as contenders that could use rotation help, and they’ll have to turn to the trade market to get that help now. The Red Sox have made David Price available, the Diamondbacks could move Robbie Ray, and the Yankees would like to unload J.A. Happ’s salary. Other possible trade candidates include Matthew Boyd and Chris Archer.
CBS Sportsheading into the offseason, and our own R.J. Anderson had high praise after Ryu hit the market following a year where he finished second in the NL Cy Young voting and was a front-runner for much of the year:
- LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu
- RHP Tanner Roark
- RHP Chase Anderson
- RHP Matt Shoemaker
- RHP Shun Yamaguchi
- RHP Trent Thornton
- LHP Ryan Borucki
- LHP Anthony Kay
- RHP Jacob Waguespack
Toronto has enough rotation depth that they could use a starter in the bullpen next season. Yamaguchi was a closer early in his career and Thornton could be a real weapon should his velocity tick up a bit in relief. Ken Giles was lights out in the ninth inning this past season. Now the club just has to figure out how to get the ball to him.
The Blue Jays lost 95 games in 2019, their most in close to three decades, but they played well down the stretch in September after their young position player core (Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) got its feet week. They may not be a playoff team in 2020, but they are moving in the right direction, and will be a headache for opposing clubs next year.
He’s coming off a mostly dominant 2019 campaign, where he led the majors with a 2.32 ERA and pitched to a 179 ERA+ with 168 strikeouts against just 24 walks in 182 2/3 innings. Ryu spent seven seasons with the Hanwha Eagles in Korea before coming to MLB.
Performance-wise, Ryu has been one of the best pitchers in baseball the past two seasons. To wit, he has a 184 ERA+ and 6.46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last 265 frames. There are a few reasons why he’s lower on the list than those numbers indicate he should be, beginning with his durability. This was the first time he had thrown more than 160 innings in a year since 2013. Indeed, from 2015-2018, he threw all of 213 innings. Add in his arsenal — he’s a feel-based southpaw — and how it’s unknown if he’s seriously consider leaving the Dodgers, and it’s enough to think he’ll get paid … just not as much as he would normally with his production.