May 20, 2024

The New York Yankees may target Hyun Jin Ryu as a potential free-agent addition, providing much-needed insurance for the rotation and potentially competing for the fifth starter role. As the pitchers and catchers are set to report in just two weeks, the Yankees face a narrowing window to enhance their roster before the 2024 season commences. While recent reports suggest that the team’s winter business is nearly concluded, focusing mainly on bullpen additions, there is a compelling case for bolstering the rotation depth, considering some uncertainties heading into the upcoming season.

Hyun-Jin Ryu set to rejoin Blue Jays' rotation Tuesday against Orioles |  CBC Sports

The front office should give serious consideration to Hyun Jin Ryu, given that he appears to be back to a normal offseason routine. Ryu’s 2023 statistics reflect 27 games (25 starts), 136.2 innings pitched, a 3.95 ERA (113 ERA+), and notable advanced metrics such as a 3.58 FIP, 3.79 xFIP, 20.7 percent K%, and 9.0 percent BB%. The 2024 FanGraphs Depth Charts Projections anticipate 32 starts, 189 innings pitched, a 4.11 ERA, and a 2.6 fWAR.

Ryu, who signed a four-year, $80 million contract with the Blue Jays in 2019, returned to the mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery, making 11 starts for the Blue Jays in 2023. Despite a decrease in velocity, Ryu demonstrated effectiveness in the majority of his starts, holding opponents to two or fewer earned runs in eight out of 11 outings.

While there is evidence suggesting Ryu faced some bad luck in his final two seasons in Toronto, with a drop in FIP to xFIP and higher-than-expected slugging percentages by opposing hitters, there are also red flags. Ryu experienced a decline in groundball rate, an increase in walk rate, and a deterioration in strikeout rate in 2023.

Analyzing Ryu’s best season in 2019, where he excelled at inducing soft contact, the key was his effective placement of the four-seamer and changeup. However, caution is warranted due to Ryu’s history of injuries, including multiple surgeries and significant time on the injured list.

Despite having five penciled-in starters, the Yankees lack depth behind the starting five. Considering the uncertainties surrounding Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes, Ryu emerges as an appealing depth candidate, bringing a higher pedigree and established MLB success as a potential addition to the rotation.

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