The Dodgers will be without the services of Hyun-Jin Ryu who has departed for Toronto. LA’s rotation will overcome the loss of Ryu.
Hyun-Jin Ryu was another successful import for the Dodgers as the was with the club since 2013. After a stellar but injury-shortened 2018 season, Ryu returned to the Dodgers by accepting the qualifying offer. Hyun-Jin followed up his strong abbreviated season with a Cy Young worthy season that saw him finish as a finalist for the National League Cy Young award.
Although Ryu did not win the award he cashed in his superb season by signing a four year $80 million dollar contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. For Ryu, he has signed what will likely be his final contract in the big leagues and for the Dodgers, they saw one of their most reliable starters from 2019 depart but their rotation will be just fine for 2020.
This isn’t the first time the Dodgers have had to deal with a top of the rotation starter leaving as Zack Greinke did the same in 2015. Although the Dodgers made a mistake signing Scott Kazmir that off-season, they were able to sign Kenta Maeda to an eight-year contract and Kenta has been a valuable piece of LA’s rotation and postseason bullpen. The club survived Greinke’s departure to a division rival and they made the right move letting Ryu leave.
As the rotation stands now, the Dodgers have Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Dustin May, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Ross Stripling as their primary rotation candidates for the 2020 season. Even if they stand pat, that is a talented group although they could use a number two starter in the postseason since it is well documented what tends to happen with Kershaw in October.
Dustin May, Julio Urias, and Tony Gonsolin are all very talented and could turn into that number two starter for the postseason although it would be unfair to expect that kind of rise so soon. If any of the three became the team’s fourth starter in the postseason that is a much more likely outcome and it would form a formidable postseason rotation for the Dodgers. Ross Stripling could also surprise and snag a rotation spot for the postseason, he is a former All-Star after all.
The better route is for the Dodgers to go out and acquire another top of the rotation starter. Andrew Friedman made a hard run at Gerrit Cole but it turned out that Cole wanted to be a Yankee. Indians’ ace Mike Clevinger is a name that has been involved in trade rumors for the Dodgers and he would be the ideal pickup.
Not only would Clevinger slot into the number two spot nicely but he comes with three seasons of control and will make under five million dollars next season. Adding Mike Clevinger would leave room under the luxury tax threshold to add another reliever or player in free agency. While the price to acquire him would likely be one of Tony Gonsolin or Dustin May in addition to other prospects, Clevinger would be an excellent addition to LA’s rotation.
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Regardless of whether the Dodgers choose to upgrade their rotation or go into the season as is, the team made the right call in letting Ryu leave to Toronto. In seven years in Los Angeles, Ryu made more than 25 starts just four times and has already undergone two surgeries to his throwing arm, including labrum surgery which doesn’t have the same track record of success that Tommy John surgery does.
Then there was the groin injury in 2018 that Ryu completely tore off his bone. Ryu has always been a successful pitcher but injuries seem to occur far too often. Handing out four years to a 33-year-old starter with an injury history like Ryu is not a wise investment to make. The Dodgers are choosing to bet on the talent of their young starters and it’s hard to fault them in doing so.
Hyun-Jin Ryu was excellent when healthy for the Dodgers throughout his tenure in Los Angeles and he even added a home run last season but with an abundance of young pitching talent, it was time for the Dodgers to let him move on. Now here’s hoping they supplement the young starters with one more top of the rotation starter before the trade deadline.