Dodgers: Which free agents should the Dodgers bring back?

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers waits to pitch in the first inning of Game 3 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 06, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers waits to pitch in the first inning of Game 3 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 06, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 06: Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers in the first inning of Game 3 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 06, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Bring back Ryu or upgrade?

The debate to bring back Hyun-Jin Ryu is an interesting one.  Ryu had a Cy Young contending season for the Dodgers this year and only received one playoff start where he pitched five innings while allowing two earned runs.  He struggled in the 2018 postseason pitching to an ERA of 5.21.  Ryu will be 33 years old before next season begins so he will likely command a three to four-year deal.

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Hyun-Jin will be in for at least a small raise from the qualifying offer especially with Scott Boras as his agent.  For teams in need of starting pitching that don’t want to hand out long term deals, Ryu makes a ton of sense for.  The Dodgers could be one of those teams if they are not willing to go beyond five years for Gerrit Cole or possibly Stephen Strasburg.  Ryu has been injury-prone over the years although he stayed healthy in 2019.

Since Hyun-Jin Ryu does not rely on velocity, he should age well over the course of his short-term deal.  The problem for the Dodgers is that Ryu is more of a regular-season pitcher and the team needs pitchers that can help them compete against the aces on other teams.  Ryu did well in his lone 2019 playoff start but in 2018 he struggled mightily in the NLCS and World Series.

Then there is the injury risk.  Ryu has already had shoulder surgery and injury his groin multiple times.  While they have the depth to overcome any injuries to Ryu, in terms of the postseason, the Dodgers have to weigh if Hyun-Jin can be counted on against elite playoff teams.

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If the Dodgers are not planning to pursue Cole or Strasburg a reunion with Ryu makes sense.  If they plan to go big then Ryu will be playing elsewhere in 2020 and beyond.  While he would make a nice third playoff starter, the Dodgers still need to seek that second ace to pair with Walker Buehler.  Given it’s unlikely that the Dodgers sign two top starters, Ryu should only be the backup plan.

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