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Former Blue Jays ace Hyun Jin Ryu has reportedly signed with KBO’s Hanwha Eagles

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Photo credit:Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
It appears that Hyun Jin Ryu won’t be pitching in the Major Leagues this season 
According to Jeeho Yoo, former Blue Jay Hyun Jin Ryu is heading back to Korea to pitch with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization.
Ryu signed a four-year, $80 million deal before the start of the 2020 season, which was the beginning of the Blue Jays signing high-profile free agents. He immediately made the contract worth it, as he had a 2.69 ERA and a 3.01 FIP in 67 innings during the pandemic-impact 2020 season. He finished third in American Cy Young voting, the beginning of a four-year stretch with a Blue Jay nominated for the award.
The 2021 season wasn’t as good for the left-handed pitcher, as he posted a 4.37 ERA and a 4.02 FIP in 169 innings pitched, along with a 20.4 K% and a 5.3 BB%. At the end of the day, he ate a handful of innings and was a key pitcher at the start of the season when the Jays really needed him.
Unfortunately for the Jays and Ryu, he only pitched 27 innings in 2022 before a UCL tear required Tommy John surgery. It was tracking to be by far his worst career season, where he had a 5.67 ERA and a 4.78 FIP in those six starts.
However, Ryu had redemption at the end of the 2023 season, pitching in 11 games starting in August after returning from surgery. The 36-year-old had a 3.46 ERA and a 4.91 FIP in 52 innings pitched, along with a 17 K% and a 6.3 BB%. His return helped the Jays push for their second consecutive playoff spot, and the third spot in the four years of Ryu’s tenure.
Despite the decline after his 2020 season, Ryu is probably still good enough to pitch in the big leagues. He’s never been a flamethrower by any means, as the highest velocity he’s had in any season was in 2014 as a 27-year-old at just 91.6 mph. However, Ryu is a pitcher who relies on command of his pitches and soft contact, something he’s still capable of doing.
It can’t be understated how important Ryu’s signing was to the Jays, as it sparked the team into contention, even if they haven’t reached the American League Divisional Series. The following off-season, the Jays gave George Springer the largest contract in franchise history at six years, $150 million. On top of that, they signed 2021 American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and AL MVP Marcus Semien.
In 2022, the Jays signed Kevin Gausman to a five-year, $110 million deal, just for him to be nominated for a Cy Young award in 2023. On top of that, they handed out another $100 million + deal to José Berríos for seven years, $131 million.
The Jays’ biggest contract in the 2022-23 off-season was Chris Bassitt’s three-year, $63 million deal, but they did swing a big trade for Daulton Varsho, as they remain committed to winning. Even though there hasn’t been a big Blue Jays deal yet – either through trade or signing – maybe low expectations are exactly what the Jays need heading into 2024?
Either way, Ryu may have only had one excellent season with the Jays and two handfuls of “okay” seasons, but the signing meant something bigger than anyone expected. Best of luck to the 36-year-old. Hopefully, he finds success in his home country.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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