Dodgers ink Korean lefty Ryu to six-year contract

By Ken Gurnick / 12/09/12 8:17 PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers followed up their agreement with right-hander Zack Greinke by reaching a deal Sunday with Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu for six years and $36 million.
The Ryu deal barely beat the 2 p.m PT deadline at the end of the exclusive 30-day negotiating window the Dodgers won by posting a fee of $25.7 million that will go to Ryu's Korean team, the Hanwha Eagles.
Between Greinke and Ryu, the Dodgers spent $208.7 million on two pitchers this weekend and will have a 2013 payroll of at least $225 million, a Major League record.
Ryu's contract includes a $5 million signing bonus and up to $1 million a year in bonuses for innings pitched but does not have a no-trade clause. He will be introduced by the club Monday in a 2 p.m. PT news conference.
Adding Ryu completes management's primary offseason goal of loading up on starting pitching. The Dodgers now have a rotation of two Cy Young winners (Clayton Kershaw and Greinke), a seven-time All-Star in Ryu, followed by Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett. Each of the four Americans was a first-round Draft pick.
Now expendable for trades are starting pitchers Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly. However, the club also values depth because the health of Billingsley and Lilly are in question.
Billingsley ended the 2012 season with a partially torn elbow ligament, but the club is cautiously optimistic he can avoid surgery after he reached 94 mph in a simulated game in November. Lilly is coming off a shoulder clean-up surgery, but is throwing now and expected to be ready for Spring Training.
Ryu also represents another success in the club's international renaissance. Once a trailblazer in signing and developing non-Americans, the Dodgers had all but abandoned scouting overseas.
But new ownership -- in addition to spending lavishly for established Major league stars like Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford -- made a statement by signing Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig for $42 million this summer and by beefing up the front office with the addition of vice president of international scouting Bob Engle and his staff from Seattle.
"We are excited to welcome Hyun-Jin Ryu to Los Angeles and the United States, continuing the tradition of Korean pitchers with the Dodger organization," said general manager Ned Colletti. "The Dodgers continue to show the commitment to signing players from Asia and other international areas where baseball is played at the highest levels. We are looking forward to watching Ryu pitch for the franchise."
Ryu will be the 14th South Korean to play in the Major Leagues and fourth for the Dodgers behind Chan Ho Park, Hee-Seop Choi and Jae Seo. Park was the first Korean to play in the Majors when he debuted in 1994 and Ryu has said he was eager to join the Dodgers and follow in Park's footsteps.
"Congratulations to the Dodgers and Ryu on this great signing," said Park, who recently retired. "I'm excited to see him carry on the tradition of great international pitchers in Dodger blue and have Ryu represent Korean baseball in the United States."
Ryu was the first player to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season in Korea, when he went 18-6. He averaged 15 wins a season until this year, when the Eagles finished last and he had only nine wins, along with a 2.66 ERA.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Ryu is a strikeout pitcher with a fastball in the low 90s, a changeup and a slider. He helped Korea to the finals of the 2009 World Baseball Classic and the gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games.
Ryu went 9-9 with a 2.66 ERA last season for Hanwha, striking out 210 over 182 2/3 innings. He has a 2.80 ERA over his seven-year career in Korea.
The two biggest Asian pitchers to come to the Major Leagues recently -- Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish from Japan -- also signed for packages similar to their posting fees.
The Red Sox, after posting $51 million, gave Matsuzaka a six-year, $52 million contract. The Rangers, after posting $51 million, signed Darvish to a six-year, $60 million contract.