South Korean All-Star pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in Major League Baseball in a dramatic transaction just before the league-mandated deadline, MLB’s official website said Monday, Korean time.
MLB.com said Ryu has signed a six-year deal worth $36 million. Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles Times said the Dodgers “expect him to be part of the rotation next season.” CBSSports.com also reported that Ryu’s contract includes a signing bonus of $5 million.
According to the sports news website, Ryu has an opt out clause after five seasons and can make an extra $1 million per year based on innings pitched.
Ryu and the Dodgers had a 30-day window to sign a deal after the 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.
Korea’s Ryu Hyun-jin joins a stacked starting rotation in Los Angeles. (Yonhap News)
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, 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 is added to 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, several 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.
Ryu’s contract is the third largest in posting behind those two pitchers.
The contract talks between the Dodgers and Ryu appeared to have hit a snag last week, with both sides playing hardball 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 by saying 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 that includes 2011 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and former 20-game winner Josh Beckett.
The Dodgers are reportedly close to signing yet another former Cy Young winner, right-hander Zack Greinke, and have other established big league starters such as Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. (Yonhap News)