The Los Angeles Dodgers have a World Series title in mind for next season, and they know that pitching normally holds the key to those dreams.
Chasing down mainstream MLB free agents is one obvious route to improving your pitching staff in the offseason, but there are usually at least one or two marquee international free agents as well.
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Dodgers landed one of those big names on Sunday:
#dodgers sign ryu— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2012
ryu gets $36M for 6 yrs. also has opt out after 5.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2012
This news comes on the heels of even bigger news for Dodgers fans, as the Dodgers reportedly reached a multi-year mega-deal agreement (six years, $147 million) with Zack Greinke Saturday night.
No one will mistake Ryu Hyun-jin for Greinke anytime soon, but he's still another quality arm to add to the stable. According to Heyman, via Dayn Perry of CBS, Ryu's agent, Scott Boras, mentioned that "his client projects as a third starter in the U.S. majors."
The report also mentions that "In seven seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization, the 25-year-old Ryu boasts a 2.80 ERA and a WHIP of 1.15. He's also struck out 1,238 batters in 1,269.0 innings pitched."
As you can see from those numbers, the left-hander isn't going to have the power of new teammate and fellow southpaw Clayton Kershaw, but he will fit in nicely in the middle of the rotation. He will provide depth behind Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and possibly Greinke, and an improvement over Chris Capuano and Josh Beckett.
According to Los Angeles Times reporter Dylan Hernandez, Ryu throws in the low 90s. He "broke into professional baseball with the Hanwha Eagles at 19. That season, he won the triple crown of pitching. He was named the league’s most valuable player and rookie of the year." Also, he led the KBO in strikeouts five times.
It is also worth mentioning that he pitched at Dodger Stadium twice for South Korea in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, so that familiarity should help him acclimate with his new team and surroundings.
Los Angeles is doing its best to make sure that it's ready to win next season, and Ryu will help. It's always hard to tell how well international prospects will adapt to the major leagues, but all signs point to Ryu's success as a third or fourth starter.