Dodgers bid $25.7 million to negotiate with Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin

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UPDATE: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, MLB has confirmed that the Dodgers had the winning bid of $25,737,737 and have secured exclusive negotiating rights for Ryu Hyun-Jin. They now have 30 days to work out a contract with Hyun-Jin’s agent, Scott Boras.

Given how much of an investment the Dodgers are likely to make here, it will be interesting to see whether this will take them out of the running for free agent starters like Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez or Hiroki Kuroda. Of course, they are spending money like it’s going out of style, so who knows.

9:29 PM, Friday: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers did not win the bidding. Meanwhile, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun hears that the Orioles did not submit a bid.

8:59 PM: Still awaiting confirmation, but Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that other teams suspect the Dodgers won the bidding. On a related note, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com were told that the Dodgers submitted an “aggressive bid.”

8:00 PM: Contrary to chatter and speculation on Twitter, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Cubs did not have the winning bid.

7:54 PM: Bidding for Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin came to a close yesterday at 5 p.m. ET. While it’s not clear who won exclusive negotiating rights, we do know the winning bid.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the top bid checked in at $25,737,737 and was accepted by Hyun-Jin’s team, the Hanwha Eagles.

Still waiting for confirmation on which team won, but the Cubs and Rangers both reportedly made bids. The team that submitted the winning bid will now have 30 days to work out a contract with Hyun-Jin. The 25-year-old southpaw is represented by Scott Boras, so negotiations won’t be easy. At this price, it’s clear the winning team views him as a starting pitcher. The Hanwha Eagles will not receive the posting fee unless a contract is eventually worked out.

Hyun-Jin checks in at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds and has a 2.80 ERA over seven seasons in KBO. He’s not overpowering, generally sitting in the low-90s with his fastball, but he’s said to possess an excellent changeup.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.