Korean star pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin available for bidding, hires agent Scott Boras

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MLB teams will be able to bid on the negotiating rights to Korean pitching star Ryu Hyun-Jin, according to Yoo Jee-Ho of the Yonhap News.

Hyun-Jin, a 25-year-old left-hander who’s been one of the Korea Baseball Organization’s best pitchers since 2006, will be “posted” by the Hanwha Eagles and has already hired agent Scott Boras to represent him.

Lots of players have come to MLB via the Japanese posting process, but the Korean version is slightly different. Jee-Ho describes how it works:

The KBO club can either accept or reject the highest bid amount following the auction. Once the non-negotiable bid is accepted, the interested MLB team will have the exclusive right to negotiate with the posted player. When the two sides agree on contract terms, the Eagles will then take the bid money as a transfer fee for the player. On the other hand, the Eagles may also reject any bid, in which case Ryu will remain with the KBO team next year.

In other words, it’s basically a silent auction with a reserve/minimum price that no one actually knows yet. Hyun-Jin has made it clear that he wants to pitch in America and could leave Korea as an outright free agent in 2014, so this is his team’s chance to get something in return.

Hyun-Jin was the first Korean player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season and has led the KBO in strikeouts five times. According to Jee-Ho he “can reach up to 93 miles per hour with his fastball, and major league scouts have said they like his command with his changeup and slider.”

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.