Dodgers’ Revisionist History: 2018-19 Offseason Reimagined

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Fans cheer before game one of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Fans cheer before game one of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /
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BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 24: Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers the pitch during the first inning against the Boston Red Soxin Game Two of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park on October 24, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Don’t offer Hyun-Jin Ryu the qualifying offer

In my mind, the Dodgers’ off-season woes began when they gave Ryu the $17.9 million qualifying offer. The Korean lefty had a solid, though short, 2018 campaign, tossing 82.1 innings with a 7-3 record and a 1.97 ERA, with 89 strikeouts and a minuscule 1.64 BB/9.

I have no doubts that, on a per-inning basis, Ryu was the third best pitcher on the Dodgers last season, but I don’t think he was worth anywhere near the $17.9 million average annual value evaluation that the Dodgers gave him.

Ryu’s injury history and limited postseason success make him a very risky player at any cost, let alone at a nearly $18 million AAV. Pitchers with injury histories similar to Ryu’s have gotten paid in recent years. And oftentimes the Dodgers’ are the ones writing these players a check. Rich Hill and Brandon McCarthy each were well compensated and even given multi-year deals by the Dodgers, despite their injury histories.

In Hill’s case, the contract mostly worked out, and Hill had an awesome season in 2018, but in his two full seasons in LA he has only pitched 268.1 innings, and in the two seasons prior to 2017, Hill only had pitched 139.1 innings total at the Major League level.

Hill’s 3-year, $48 million deal (an AAV of $16 million), has been worth 2.8 WAR thus far, and Steamer projects Hill will be worth another 2.8 WAR in 2019. Using these numbers, Hill’s $16 million per year is worth about 2.43 WAR per season (assuming the Steamer projection holds true).

Ryu’s 2018 was worth 2.0 WAR and his 2019 is projected by Steamer to be worth 2.0 WAR again, so his $17.9 million will be used to earn less WAR than Rich Hill’s $16 million. This is an example of how inefficient the Ryu contract is, as even in comparison to Hill, who pitches just over 130 innings per season.

Hill is worth more than Ryu on a full season basis, especially when taking into account Ryu’s 4.11 career postseason ERA in comparison to Hill’s dominant 3.04 playoff ERA in 50.1 innings.

I think the money spent on Ryu would have been more efficiently spent on hanging onto Alex Wood, which brings up the controversial Puig “blockbuster,” which I will discuss on the next slide.

But before I move on, I want to clarify that I like bringing Ryu back, I just don’t think the market dictated paying him $18 million for just one season. Ryu, in my opinion, could have been had for more similar to the J.A. Happ deal, and Happ is more reliable than Ryu.

Happ got $17 million AAV over two seasons and has put up no less than 145 innings in a season since 2013. If Ryu had been on a one year deal more similar to the Cahill or Harvey deals for somewhere in the range of $10-14 million, he would be a much better deal in my eyes.

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