S. Korean baseball pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin. (Yonhap News)
South Korean All-Star pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in Major League Baseball (MLB), the Los Angeles Times reported Monday, Korean time.
The Times said the Dodgers "expect him to be part of the rotation next season" but added terms of the deal weren't immediately known.
Ryu and the Dodgers had a 30-day window to sign a deal after the LA-based club earned the exclusive negotiating rights to Ryu in November, and the deadline fell at 7 a.m. Monday, Korean time, or 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time Sunday in Los Angeles. The Dodgers submitted a bid of $25.7 million in a league-wide silent auction, as part of the player posting process. It was the fourth highest bid by a major league club for a foreign player.
The negotiation period began after Ryu's South Korean club, the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), accepted the Dodgers' bid.
With this signing, the Eagles will take the $25.7 million bid as a transfer fee for Ryu.
Had Ryu failed to sign a deal by the deadline, he would have been forced to return to the Eagles for 2013 and wouldn't have been eligible for posting until November next year. The Dodgers, in that case, would have retrieved their bid money.
Ryu, who completed his seventh KBO season in 2012, was posted by the Eagles in November. When he makes the major league roster, Ryu will become the first South Korean to jump directly from the KBO to the majors.
The Dodgers have been home to three South Korean players before Ryu, including right-hander Park Chan-ho, who became the first Korean to play in the majors in 1994.
Before Ryu, some Japanese stars have joined the majors via posting, and they have signed for packages similar to their posting fees. Ahead of the 2007 season, the Boston Red Sox signed right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka to a six-year deal worth $52 million, after posting $51 million. Last year, Yu Darvish, also a right-hander, drew a bid of $51.7 million from the Texas Rangers and reached a six-year deal for $60 million.
The contract talks between the Dodgers and Ryu appeared to have hit a snag last week, with both sides playing hard ball through the local media. The Dodgers had said Ryu once rejected their offer of a long-term contract. The player's agent, Scott Boras, pressured the Dodgers that Ryu could play in Japan in 2013 and test free agency later without going through posting. Boras, who's built a reputation as a hard-nosed agent, had also argued that Ryu deserved to be paid like a No. 3 major league starter and cited Matsuzaka as an example.
Ryu will have to crack a deep Dodgers rotation with at least six established big league starters, including the 2011 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and former 20-game winner Josh Beckett. The Dodgers are reportedly closing in on signing yet another former Cy Young winner, right-hander Zack Greinke, and they have other established big-league starters such as Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly.
Ryu has been one of the KBO's most dominant starters since his sensational debut in 2006, when he became the first player to win both the MVP and the Rookie of the Year honors in the same season.
He was 18-6 with a 2.23 ERA and a rookie-record 204 strikeouts.
This year, as the Eagles staggered to the KBO's worst record, Ryu went 9-9 with a 2.66 ERA and a league-leading 210 strikeouts in 182 2/3 innings.
The thick-bodied lefty, listed at 187 centimeters and 98 kilograms, has averaged more than 181 innings per season and led the league in strikeouts five times, mixing in his fastball with slider and changeup
He can reach up to 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) with his fastball, and can also throw a changeup and slider as his out pitches. (Yonhap News)
류현진, LA다저스와 390억원에 계약
'괴물 투수' 류현진(25)이 로스앤젤레스 다저스 와 입단 계약에 합의해 마침내 미국프로야구 메이저리그(MLB) 진출을 이뤘다.
미국 지역신문 로스앤젤레스 타임스는 10일 오전(한국시간) "한국인 좌완 투수 류현진이 다저스와 계약했다"면서 "류현진은 다음 시즌 다저스 선발 로테이션의 한 축을 맡을 것으로 기대된다"고 보도했다.
미국 CBS스포츠는 계약 기간 6년에 총 3천600만 달러(약 390억원)를 받는 조건이라고 전했다.
5년 이후에는 자유계약선수(FA) 자격을 요구할 수 있는 '옵트 아웃' 조항도 이번 계약에 넣었다.
3천600만 달러에는 계약금 500만 달러가 포함돼 있다. 이와 별도로 매년 성적에 따른 보너스로 100만 달러를 더 받기로 했다.
류현진과 다저스 구단의 단독 협상 마감 시한은 우리시각 10일 오전 7시였다.
다저스 입단으로 류현진은 1994년 다저스 유니폼을 입은 '코리안 특급' 박찬호(은퇴)를 시작으로 한국인 선수로는 13번째로 메이저리그 무대에 설 기회를 잡았다.
또 류현진은 한국프로야구에서 메이저리그로 직행한 첫 번째 선수가 됐다.
올해까지 한국프로야구에서 7시즌을 보낸 류현진은 한화 이글스 구단의 허락을 받아 포스팅시스템(비공개 경쟁입찰)을 통해 메이저리그 진출을 추진했다.
한화 구단이 지난달 10일 다저스가 포스팅시스템을 통해 류현진을 영입하겠다고 써낸 최고응찰액을 받아들이기로 하면서 류현진은 다저스와 30일간 단독협상을 벌여 왔다.
다저스가 제시한 최고응찰액은 무려 2천573만7천737달러33센트(약 280억원)였다.
이는 역대 포스팅시스템에 참가한 한국 선수 중 최고액이며 일본 선수를 통틀어도 메이저리그 역대 포스팅시스템에서 4위에 해당하는 높은 금액이다.
다저스는 박찬호가 1990년대 전성기를 보낸 팀이라 한국 야구팬들에게도 친숙한 팀이다. 박찬호 외에 최희섭(2004∼2006년), 서재응(2006년)도 다저스에서 뛰었다.