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San Francisco Giants: Five starting pitchers to target in free agency

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JULY 12: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros throws against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 12, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JULY 12: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros throws against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 12, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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ATLANTA, GEORGIA – AUGUST 17: Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on August 17, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – AUGUST 17: Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on August 17, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu

Suddenly, things just got a lot more expensive.

Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a one-year, $17.9 million deal after accepting a qualifying offer last winter, and he could see his annual salary climb north of $20 million thanks to a terrific 2019 season.

The 32-year-old is 12-5 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 161.2 innings in 26 starts. Those numbers are good enough to make him a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate, even with some recent struggles.

Zaidi is plenty familiar with Ryu from his time in the Dodgers front office. He would be a terrific replacement for Bumgarner as a left-handed veteran to slot atop a young starting rotation.

There are some reasons for pause, though.

He’s already 32 years old, so he’s exiting his prime, and while he’s been healthy this season he has a lengthy injury track record. Depending on how high his asking price climbs, the right move might be to let someone else pay or his stellar 2019 numbers.

Still, it’s always nice to simultaneously strengthen the Giants and weaken the Dodgers, and this move would accomplish that.

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