Mark Buehrle made news earlier this week as part of a reported but not yet official 12-player trade between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. Now that the left-hander is Toronto-bound, will he be replaced domestically by Ryu Hyun-jin?
That's how agent Scott Boras described the 25-year old Korean left-hander, for whom the Dodgers bid $25.7 million last week. "Body type-wise, size-wise, ability, he reminds me a lot of Buehrle," Boras told reporters on Thursday, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
Anytime there is a big-time trade in baseball, there is a natural inclination of fan bases to speculate and wonder if their team could have matched or beat one of the offers. The Toronto-Miami trade seemed right up the Dodgers' alley, as the principal goal for the Marlins was a pure salary dump, with over $160 million in contracts headed to the Blue Jays.
Buehrle signed a four-year, $58 million contract with the Marlins last winter, and it sounds like Ryu expects similar windfall, at least in total value. Per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
"Had he pitched in Japan, his posting fee would be in accord with the dominant Japanese pitchers," Boras said.
"As a player I want to get as much value for myself," said Ryu. "I feel the Dodgers are a good team, and I hope the Dodgers treat [me] well."
Boras also said on Thursday, per both Hernandez and Gurnick, that he has already taked with general manager Ned Colletti and the two plan to meet next week to open talks. So far the Dodgers have slow-played this, as they have until Dec. 10 to either sign Ryu or he goes back to Korea and the Dodgers would be off the hook for their $25.7 million bid.
One would think the Dodgers didn't bid on Ryu without the intention of signing him to a contract. But the question then becomes, does Ryu fill their need for a starting pitcher? Will Ryu be the "third starter on a championship-caliber major league team" as Boras described him? If so, will that stop the Dodgers from adding yet another starter?
The winter meetings are Dec. 3-6 in Nashville, so we'll probably know more by then. Interestingly, the deadline to sign Ryu (30 days from the day the Dodgers were awarded the bid) comes after the winter meetings. The Dodgers could theoretically acquire, for example, Zack Greinke or Hiroki Kuroda, and sign Ryu by that Dec. 10 deadline. Or they could decide, with one of Greinke/Kuroda in tow, to let Ryu walk.
Sure, the Dodgers have $66.25 million committed to six starting pitchers next season. But if forced to etch the 2013 rotation in stone, I am inclined to write only two names: Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett. With Ted Lilly coming off surgery and Chad Billingsley coming off of, well, not surgery, they are question marks at this point. Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang did everything that was asked of them this season, but with the way the Dodgers have spent money, one would believe that if there is an upgrade to be found the team would lay out the cash to secure it.
I don't profess to know what the Dodgers' budget will be for next year, other than to say it will be quite high, and likely the highest in MLB. I think the Dodgers do sign Ryu, and they sign another free agent starter by Dec. 10 as well. But that's just my guess. What's yours?