The Chicago Cubs’ interest in Korean lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, who is entering the posting process, appears to be sincere.
According to a report from Arirang News in Korea, the Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, Rangers, and Indians “have shown concrete interest” in Ryu, and have requested, or have already received, official statistical information on the pitcher from Sports2i, the Korea Baseball Organization official data provider. If you wanted an initial short list on the interested teams, there you have them.
Ryu, 25, is one of the best pitchers in Korea, and has been since he was a teenager. He’s not a blazer, sitting in the high 80s/low 90s, at best. But, as an effective lefty in his mid-20s, he always made sense as a prime target for the Cubs. His price tag is pretty hard to figure, when you consider that he hasn’t competed in MLB (though he’s got some WBC experience against MLB-caliber players), and that the posting process leads to a one-team negotiation.
Also hard to figure: whether Ryu is viewed by the Cubs as a rotational lock (a guy they’re pursuing as “one” of the two pitchers they need to add to the rotation this offseason), or whether he’s simply a young-ish, talented arm they’d like to add. Once they get him, work him out in the Spring, they can decide whether he can stick in the rotation. Some scouts think, long-term, Ryu is more of a long reliever than a consistent starter.
We still don’t have a definitive time line for Ryu’s posting. Some reports say that he “has been posted,” while others indicate he and his agent are still waiting for MLB to officially reveal to teams that he’s available for bidding. I suspect that, because teams are still in the process of receiving information from his team, his posting period has not officially begun. Once it does, teams will have a certain period of time in which to submitted sealed bids for the right to negotiate a contract with Ryu. Hanwha will select the highest bid, and that MLB team will have another certain period of time in which to negotiate a contract with Ryu. If they come to an agreement, Hanwha gets to keep the posting bid. If no contract is reached, the MLB team gets its posting bid money back.
The Arirang report also notes that Ryu is represented by Scott Boras, which suggests Ryu is pretty serious about securing an MLB contract at the end of this process.
Note: Because Ryu has been playing professional ball in Korea for more than four years, his signing is not subject to the new international free agent signing limitations regarding amateur players. Once a team wins the post for him, that team can offer him as much as they’d like, without any future signing restriction implications.