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Former MLB GM: D-backs ought to sign LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu

Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers in the first inning of Game 3 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 06, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

A former MLB general manager chose a move for each of the 30 teams to get done at baseball’s Winter Meetings. That meant a hypothetical free-agent signing of pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu for the Diamondbacks.

Jim Bowden, the former GM of the Reds and Nationals, wrote for The Athletic that the move for the D-backs would be inking Ryu, last year’s NL Cy Young Award runner-up, to a three-year, $55.5 million deal.

The D-Backs are doing an excellent job of staying competitive while rebuilding the organization the right way through player development and scouting. Signing Ryu would enhance their chances of staying in a pennant race into September, like they did last year, and give them an important trade chip at the July trade deadline if for some reason they’re not in the race.

The Diamondbacks recently non-tendered starting pitcher Taijuan Walker as the team’s roster projects to have a full rotation next year already; Luke Weaver, Zac Gallen, Robbie Ray, Merrill Kelly, Mike Leake and even young arms Alex Young, Jon Duplantier and Taylor Clarke are in the fold.

But the D-backs could also use a more clear-cut top-of-the-rotation arm. It helps that Ryu is left-handed, as of those aforementioned names, only Ray and Young are lefties.

Last year with the Dodgers, Ryu posted an MLB-best 2.32 ERA, pitching 182.2 innings and also posting the league’s best walks per nine innings at 1.2. His WHIP was only 1.007.

In 10 starts from June 28 through the end of August, Ryu had three outings in which he gave up seven earned runs. His ERA in that span was 4.17, and he eventually lost the Cy Young vote to Jacob deGrom.

Still, Ryu is clearly one of the more quality pitchers in baseball and has a 2.21 ERA going back to the start of the 2018 season. He is 32 years old, though, which is why Bowden’s three-year deal could be a good compromise in length of commitment.

It would also add an elite starting pitcher to a D-backs team that lost Zack Greinke via trade last year.

That said, the D-backs have other needs. They lost an outfielder in Steven Souza Jr. after non-tendering him this week and already saw both Adam Jones and Jarrod Dyson enter free-agency. Second base could be an area of need, unless Ketel Marte were to move back there from center field, but that would leave yet another hole in the outfield.

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