Madison Bumgarder, one of the three most notable left-handed pitchers in FA market this year along with Ryu Hyun-jin and Dallas Keuchel, has sealed a deal. He signed an FA contract worth 85 million U.S. dollars (about 99.8 billion won) for five years with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday (local time).
The scale of Ryu’s prospective contract is drawing much attention from Korean fans with several pitchers having recently clinched massive FA deals, such as Gerrit Cole (9 years, 324 million dollars, New York Yankees), Stephen Strasburg (7 years, 245 million dollars, Washington Nationals) and Zack Wheeler (5 years, 118 million dollars, Philadelphia Phillies).
Former ace of the San Francisco Giants, Bumgarner led his team to World Series three times in 2010, 2012, and 2014. In 2014, he won the MVP titles both in Championship Series and World Series. Two years younger than Ryu, the American pitcher lost his prime form in 2017 when he got injured in a motorcycle accident. This season, Bumgarner’s ERA stood at 3.90, with a record of nine wins and nine losses. Sharing a number of similarities with Ryu, such as left-handedness, age, and history of injuries, Bumgarner was expected to sign a deal slightly lower than Ryu’s.
As the American pitcher settled for a deal smaller than anticipated, many experts say that it could affect Ryu’s FA deal as well. While the Korean singularly excelled this season with 2.32 ERA, 14 wins and five losses, some put his worth lower than Bumgarner’s as Ryu is older with a longer list of injury ranging from elbows and shoulders to adductor muscle. In fact, Ryu Hyun-jin was ranked in the seventh in winter FA rankings on the official MLB homepage, with Bumgarner being ranked fifth.
Other experts maintain that it might work favorably for the Korean pitcher that big name pitchers have found their new home earlier than expected. Some of the clubs desperately looking for a way to reinforce their bullpen could jump into a fierce competition for Ryu. The Korean’s potential bidders include Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jay, Minnesota Twins, and Chicago White Sox. His current team Los Angeles Dodgers also appears to be interested in Ryu.
The size of Ryu’s new contract will hinge upon the negotiating acumen of his “Super Agent” Scott Boras. During the winter meeting period from December 10 to 12, Boras clinched a series of massive deals in a row for Strasburg, Cole, and Anthony Rendon of the Los Angeles Angels, hitting a “jackpot” with cumulative deals reaching one trillion won in worth. “An increasingly number of teams are seeking to improve their records next season, and many are scrambling to get decent players before others,” explained Song Jae-woo, a commentator of MBC Sports Plus. “If two or three teams get into a competition for a starting pitcher in the remaining period, it could help boost Ryu’s worth significantly.”