Toronto, which judged that the rebuilding of its fielders was reaching a certain level of completion, set out to find an ace to lead the mound in the free agent (FA) market ahead of the 2020 season. Toronto’s choice was Ryu Hyun-jin (36), who showed off his peak skills by ranking second in the 2019 National League Cy Young Award voting.메이저놀이터
At the time, there were many good starting pitchers in the free agent market, including Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees), who was considered the biggest pitcher, as well as Stephen Strasburg (Washington), Hyun-jin Ryu, and Madison Bumgarner. Toronto, which was not at the level to cover the price of Cole or Strasburg, recruited Ryu Hyun-jin, who was at the next level, and entrusted him with the important role of ace. The four-year, $80 million contract was the largest in Toronto’s history of signing free agent pitchers at the time.
Ryu Hyun-jin’s contract with Toronto ended soon after. So, has Toronto recovered the principal of its investment in Ryu Hyun-jin? Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for both sides. As expected, the aftermath of the elbow surgery received in June 2022 was significant. Because of this surgery, he was unable to pitch for over a year, which reduced his opportunities to contribute to the team.
Ryu Hyun-jin started a total of 60 games during his four years in Toronto. He pitched 315 innings in 60 games, going 24-15 with a 3.97 earned run average. Ryu Hyun-jin’s average ERA during the six seasons he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers was 2.98. You have to take into account the difference in bats between the National League West Division and the American League East Division, especially the fact that Ryu Hyun-jin was a member of the Dodgers, the strongest team in the world, but anyway, the ERA has risen significantly.
What is Ryu Hyun-jin’s victory contribution (WAR) compared to replacement players during this period? The total was 5.0 based on ‘Baseball Reference’ and 4.9 based on ‘FanGraphs’. Ryu Hyun-jin’s contract total was $80 million, but his actual annual salary was $67.4 million because 2020 was a shortened 60-game season due to the novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19). As a result, it turns out that he was not worth $67.4 million.
It is difficult to receive such an evaluation due to the 1 year and 2 months lost due to surgery. According to the value based on win contribution compared to replacement players (WAR) compiled by ‘FanGraphs’, Ryu Hyun-jin was worth $15.1 million in 2020 and $19.6 million in 2021. His annual salary for two years was $27.4 million, but up to this point, he had a surplus of $34.7 million.
However, his performance in 2022 was not good due to elbow pain, and he received surgery in June, providing only $700,000 in value. Although he returned in August 2023, he continued to play cautiously due to the aftermath of surgery, and his value was $3.4 million. Ryu Hyun-jin’s value over four years, calculated by ‘FanGraphs’, was a total of $38.8 million, or 57.6% of the investment amount. At this level, it could be criticized as a failed contract, or in our own terms, a ‘run and run’.
However, it is difficult to find such a feeling in the local media. He has to take into account the fact that he missed a year due to injury, and the contributions he made before that are worth considering. Even if there is an evaluation of the overall contract as ‘unsatisfactory’, there is no evaluation that it is ‘the worst contract in Toronto’s history’.
Many say that this is due to invisible contributions. In fact, there were many such evaluations when Ryu Hyun-jin underwent elbow surgery last year. Caitlin McGrath, a Toronto reporter for North American sports media outlet ‘The Athletic’, said when Ryu Hyun-jin underwent elbow surgery, ‘This may be the end of Ryu Hyun-jin pitching in a Toronto uniform,’ but added, ‘Nevertheless, Toronto will advance to the postseason as an ace in 2020. A representative example is the claim that it was not a failed contract while expanding the argument that it contributed to .
Toronto, which had completed its rebuild, needed tangible results by advancing to the postseason. Coincidentally, 2020 was a time when the postseason was temporarily expanded due to the COVID-19 shortened season. Toronto was able to gain this valuable experience thanks to Ryu Hyun-jin, who struggled leading a weak team’s starting mound and ranked third in the American League Cy Young Award voting at the time. And that experience played an important role in helping the team rise to the ranks of sustainable strong teams.
Although it would be difficult to be evaluated as a ‘successful contract’, it was not enough to overturn the stigma of being a ‘scam’. Rather, it may have been a contract that proved that Ryu Hyun-jin would still do the basics as long as he stays healthy. This year, his return season from injury, he also performed well, recording an ERA of 3.46 in 11 games. Although the relationship between Toronto and Ryu Hyun-jin is unfortunate, it is still being concluded as not a very bad relationship.