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Giants: Signing free agent Hyun-Jin Ryu would bolster rotation

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the first inning at Oracle Park on September 28, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the first inning at Oracle Park on September 28, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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This year’s free-agent starting pitching class is an intriguing one. Could NL Cy Young runner-up Hyun-Jin Ryu be a target for the San Francisco Giants?

There are plenty of reasons a run at signing Hyun-Jin Ryu makes sense for the San Francisco Giants.

In 2019, Ryu enjoyed the best season of his career, going 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 163 strikeouts in 182.2 innings over 29 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That was good enough to finish second to New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom in NL Cy Young voting, and that no doubt gave his free-agent stock a shot in the arm.

While Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg represent the top-tier of the starting pitching market, Ryu could be a solid consolation prize to the teams that miss out on signing one of those big fish this winter.

The surface-level numbers make it clear that Ryu would be a welcome addition to the San Francisco Giants starting rotation as they look to potentially replace Madison Bumgarner.

However, there are also several reasons for the San Francisco Giants to be wary of signing the 32-year-old left-hander.

A lengthy injury history is the biggest reason for pause when it comes to the potential pursuit of Ryu. He’s gone under the knife for Tommy John surgery and left shoulder surgery, which is concerning for any pitcher, and especially for one entering his age-33 season.

At various times he’s also been sidelined with shoulder inflammation, a left foot contusion, a left hip contusion, and a left groin strain. His 182.2 innings of work this past season represent just the second time in his career that he has topped 160 innings.

Even with the inherent injury risk, Ryu is still an appealing target.

The Giants need a contingency plan if Madison Bumgarner decides to sign elsewhere, and they will also be without a left-handed pitcher in the starting rotation. Ryu would plug both holes.

There’s also the fact that team president Farhan Zaidi and new manager Gabe Kapler both have a connection to Ryu from their time in the Dodgers front office. That’s part of the reason I identified Ryu as a potential target in this piece back in August.

MLBTradeRumors.com predicted a three-year, $54 million contract for Ryu this offseason, which should not be a prohibitive price for a Giants team with plenty of money to spend this winter.

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Ultimately, Ryu isn’t the shiniest option out there, but he’s unquestionably someone who could help the San Francisco Giants as they look to rebuild their rotation for the 2020 season and beyond.

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