Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, a free agent, said in an interview in early October that he thinks he can pitch better next year with a higher velocity and better stuff than this year. In 2023, he returned from Tommy John surgery and a year and two months of rehabilitation. In 11 games, he went 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA. In 2024, Ryu could be even better.
Ryu Hyun-jin, Bae Ji-hyun and Lee Man-soo of the Toronto Blue Jays during the game between the LG Twins and the KT Wiz in the fifth inning of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason game at Jamsil Stadium on November 13, 2023 in Seoul, South Korea.굿모닝토토 도메인
It’s a well-established fact that even after Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation, pitchers don’t fully regain their pitching feel for about one to two years, depending on the individual. In other words, if you go through a transitional period of one to two years, your velocity can increase and your pitches can improve.
Scott Boras (71), the “Devil’s Agent,” will likely sell this to teams, so it’s not hard to envision a resurgence using this free agency as a pillar. He’ll be 37 next year, and even pitchers who aren’t known for their velocity have to accept a decline in athleticism. However, Ryu does have an asset: his ability to run a game.
On Friday, Just Baseball highlighted players who are expected to rebound in free agency. Ryu made the list. “Hyun-jin Ryu has pitched just 79 innings in 17 starts over the past two seasons, but he should have no shortage of suitors this offseason. His career ERA and FIP are just 3.27 and 3.53, respectively.”
Ryu could return to the form that led the majors in ERA (2.32). “Injuries have plagued him throughout his career, but as evidenced by 2019, when he led the majors in ERA and BB/9, there will be teams willing to take a chance on him knowing that if he can put together a perfect season, he can be a frontline starter,” Just Baseball wrote.
In other words, once he’s fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, he could return to his 2019 form and be a 1-3 starter for any team. “If he can recapture some of that magic, he’ll provide a huge boost to wherever he goes,” Just Baseball wrote.
But they’re also realistic. “Ryu is not expected to be an ace, but teams can see him as a bonus,” Just Baseball said. They’ll be happy to get whatever production they can while he’s on the field. But they also recognize that he’s unlikely to throw a ball in five days.” Given his injury history, they have to account for him not being a full-time starter.
For some time now, $10 million per year has been the benchmark for Ryu’s contract. This means that a team taking Ryu would be taking a low-risk gamble with a minimum of 13.3 billion won. In fact, if Ryu rebounds perfectly on a one-year deal, he could be a huge hit in the 2024-2025 free agency market.