What Should the Dodgers Do with Hyun-Jin Ryu?

The hits keep on coming for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season. Unfortunately, for Dodgers’ fans, not the hits you’d like to see for a team that’s going for their fourth consecutive NL West title. 

Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu was placed on the Disabled List on Tuesday for the fourth time in his career. Ryu was coming off of his first start since October of 2014, but was quickly shut down after experiencing elbow discomfort. Ryu was roughed up in his only start this season, giving up six runs over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Padres.

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Before this DL stint, Ryu had been rehabbing from surgery on his torn labrum that shut him down for the entire 2015 season after a solid first two seasons with the Dodgers.

During Ryu’s first two seasons with the Dodgers (2013, 2014), he was quite effective as the Dodgers’ third starter. He posted a 28-15 record with a 3.17 era over 344 innings including a postseason win in the Dodgers’ 2013 playoff run.

[graphiq id=”heo2qFt7VCl” title=”Hyun-Jin Ryu Career Pitching” width=”600″ height=”300″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/heo2qFt7VCl” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/14312/Hyun-Jin-Ryu” link_text=”Hyun-Jin Ryu Career Pitching | PointAfter” ]

The move marks the Dodgers 20th time they have placed a player on their 40-man roster on the disabled list this season. Good enough to lead the MLB in DL transactions.

Top DL Transaction in MLB

According to spotrac.com.

Just when it seems the Dodgers might finally have a strong, healthy team there’s always a setback. One step forward, two steps back. But the injury obstacles for the Dodgers have been well documented this season; this is about Ryu’s contribution to the Dodgers moving forward.

Ryu is on the back end of a six-year, 6-year, 36 million dollar deal that was signed back in 2013. After this season, Ryu is owed 15.66 million over the last two seasons of his rookie contract (7.8 mil/season).

At first glance with Ryu’s initial production for the Dodgers, he looked like a steal for the Dodgers at 6 million a year for a starter with an ERA in the low 3’s. But when you factor in the 25 million dollar posting fee the Dodgers had to fork over, the contract does look a little inflated, adding up to over $61 million for six years.

On the other hand, with the current starting pitcher market, paying less than 10 million a year for a left-handed arm is a good deal. If, of course, he is pitching. 

[graphiq id=”cWeOl5pv6IJ” title=”Hyun-Jin Ryu Career Earnings by Season” width=”600″ height=”494″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/cWeOl5pv6IJ” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/14312/Hyun-Jin-Ryu” link_text=”Hyun-Jin Ryu Career Earnings by Season | PointAfter” ]

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Fortunately for the Dodgers, Ryu’s contract does not have a no-trade clause, meaning that the Dodgers are free to explore any trade options for the young left-hander (only 29 years-old).

Ryu’s injury history will definitely lower Ryu’s trade value, but his team friendly contract and production while healthy may have smaller market teams inclined to take a flyer on him. 

No teams have been rumored to be interested in Ryu’s services and the Dodgers have made no indication of their desire to trade Ryu, but as Dodgers fans we should be inclined to look at all options.

Should the Dodgers look to trade Ryu or should the Dodgers shut down Ryu and take their chances on a healthy 2017 season? 

If Ryu does come back healthy, should they look to limit his workload and find a role for him out of the bullpen? Or should he remain as a starter?

These are all interesting options the Dodgers should explore as they try to preserve the “prime” years left of their left-hander.

My humble opinion is the Dodgers keep Ryu until his contract expires. The reality is — if the Dodgers could manage to get four full seasons out of a consistent left-hander for under 10 million, that’s a steal. To put it into perspective, Ryu’s annual salary is less than pitchers like Jonathan Niese, Yovani Gallardo, Wei-Yen Chen, and Mike Pelfrey, all pitchers that Ryu has shown more promise than.

We asked you Dodgers Nation on twitter and it was a close vote with 51 percent voting no.

While many of Dodgers Nation contemplated Ryu’s future with the Dodgers, Forbes Magazine sports writer, Howard Cole had a much worse perspective on Ryu’s future:

As Ryu’s workload and injuries continue to pile up, it worth noting that his role should be up for discussion. Ryu has been pitching professionally in the Korean Baseball Organization since he was 19 years-old.

Over the course of his professional career, Ryu has piled up 1,615 innings (1,266 in KBO and 348 in MLB) over a 10 year career. That’s a pretty substantial workload for a 29 year-old left-hander that’s supposed to be in the back end of the prime of his career.

Ryus Korea Stats

According to BaseballAmerica.com

Although the Dodgers have a “surplus” of starting pitchers (Kershaw, Kazmir, Maeda, McCarthy, Norris, Wood, Anderson, Urias and Ryu) there have been multiple reports they’re looking for more pitching help before this year’s trade deadline. Meaning the role for Ryu, let alone most of these starting pitchers is still up in the air.

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With four of the Dodgers current nine starters currently on the DL, Roberts doesn’t have to make the decision to send one (or more) of these arms to the bullpen.

With Anderson and Wood likely out until the end of the regular season (Anderson mid-August timetable) it makes sense to also shut down Ryu for the remainder of the season and take their chances with the other five arms in hopes of Kershaw coming back sooner rather than later.

The Dodgers should play Ryu’s elbow tendinitis cautiously because he had Tommy John Surgery back in 2004. If Ryu were to need Tommy John again, it would ruin the possibility of him returning healthy next season and wash up any feasible value he could have and then lead to the Dodgers designating him for assignment.

When healthy, Ryu is a viable left-handed arm. Although he’s pitched a lot of innings, his pitching style doesn’t meet the need for the Dodgers bullpen. If he could work on getting healthy for the beginning of next season, the Dodgers could possibly looking at an opening day rotation of Kershaw, Maeda, Kazmir, McCarthy, and Ryu with the possibility of Urias opening the season in the starting rotation.

This would give the Dodgers a mixture of young and veteran arms to round out the rotation and allows them to explore trade options with their younger arms in Wood (25) and Anderson (28) or at the very least give the bullpen another left-handed arm.

[graphiq id=”9W8Qm1KHrjT” title=”Hyun-Jin Ryu Career Salary vs. WAR” width=”640″ height=”524″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/9W8Qm1KHrjT” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/14312/Hyun-Jin-Ryu” link_text=”Hyun-Jin Ryu Career Salary vs. WAR | PointAfter” ]

Whatever the Dodgers decide to do in the trade deadline and offseason will surely have an impact on Ryu’s role with the Dodgers. But for this season, the Dodgers are pushing for October and they can’t afford to rely on an arm that may not be 100% healthy.

It’s the Dodgers and Ryu’s best bet to shut it down for 2016 and prepare for a strong 2017. As much as the Dodgers need starting pitchers innings, the Dodgers are better off searching for a top tier pitching option to pack with Kershaw in the postseason (like Chris Archer).

We can only hope Friedman doesn’t go shopping for a middle tier rotational starter at the deadline because the Dodgers have quite a handful of these both healthy and not.  

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  1. McCarthy left yesterday’s game against the Cards with a leg injury. Not sure how bad the jury is but I’d like to see the Dodger give Jose De Leon a shot as an interim.

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