Ryu signs $36 mil. deal with LA Dodgers
By Kang Seung-woo
Hanwha Eagles pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin signed a six-season $36 million contract Monday with the Los Angeles Dodgers, including a $5 million signing bonus.
The agreement was made just before the deadline of 7 a.m. Korean time.
Ryu is the first Korean to move directly from the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) to Major League Baseball (MLB).
Under his contract, if he pitches 750 or more innings over the first five years of the contract, he can opt out of the sixth year.
He can also make up to $1 million a year in performance bonuses relating to innings pitched.
A month ago, the Dodgers won the bid to exclusively negotiate for 30 days with the 25-year-old southpaw by posting a $25.7 million transfer offer.
There have been 12 Koreans to play in the majors thus far but Ryu is the first to join via the posting system.
Four pitchers from the Korean pro league were posted previously. Choi Hyang-nam signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for $101 in 2009 but in a minor league deal.
“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,” general manager Ned Colletti was quoted as saying.
“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 six-time World Series champions Dodgers are well-known to local baseball fans.
Park Chan-ho made his big league debut with the LA side in 1994 and was with them during his heyday until 2001, recording 84-58, while right-hander Seo Jae-weong played for the franchise in 2006 and infielder Choi Hee-seop was there from 2004 to 2006.
During negotiations, Ryu’s agent Scott Boras projected his client as a No. 3 starter but the pitcher is likely to fill the fourth spot on the rotation behind two Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and Josh Beckett. The Dodgers signed Greinke, this year’s free agent target, to a $147 million, six-year contract on Saturday.
Ryu, a native of Incheon, made an immediate impact in the KBO from his rookie year at age 19.
He led the league in wins, ERAs, and strikeouts to win the KBO pitching triple crown en route to becoming the league’s first player to claim the MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season. Over seven years, the seven-time All-Star was 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA and 1,238 strikeouts.
Internationally, he played for the Korean team that clinched the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and reached the final of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.