Today was the deadline for MLB free agent qualifying offer decisions. Players who received qualifying offers had to decide between taking a one-year contract worth $17.9 million to return to their team or become a restricted free agent. The Dodgers had two such players: Hyun-Jin Ryu and Yasmani Grandal.
To no one’s surprise, Grandal turned down the offer. Despite his postseason struggles, Grandal is one of the best catchers in baseball and is one of the best offensive free agents on the market.
I know Grandal's October was brutal, but he's been a top 5 catcher for a few years, in a sport where there are nearly no good catchers. He'll still get paid, deservedly so. https://t.co/MZCzynQR78
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) November 2, 2018
The Dodgers can still come to an agreement on a contract with Grandal, but he should be in high demand and the Dodgers have a pair of highly-rated catching prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith. Neither will likely be ready in 2019, and Austin Barnes had a terrible 2018, so a short-term deal with a starting-caliber catcher might be the play here. Or a trade for J.T. Realmuto. Either way.
If Grandal does sign elsewhere, the Dodgers will receive a draft pick after the Competitive Balance Round B in next year’s draft. In last year’s draft, these compensation picks fell between picks 75 and 78.
While Grandal will likely be in a different uniform next season, Ryu will not. He accepted the qualifying offer, keeping him in Los Angeles for at least one more season. Ryu missed time with a torn groin this season, but in 82 1/3 regular season innings he posted a 1.97 ERA and a 3.00 FIP. He allowed 11 earned runs in four postseason starts after allowing only 18 earned runs in 15 regular season starts. Talent has never been the concern with Ryu, who hasn’t thrown more than 130 innings in a season since 2014. However, his return from shoulder and elbow surgeries that cost him nearly two full seasons has been a wonderful and underrated story.
The Ryuturn/Dodgers being Ryunited (choose your favorite pun) means the Dodgers will keep both of their free agent starters. Clayton Kershaw signed a three-year extension a couple days ago, so the Dodgers still have a very deep pool of starters heading into next season. Walker Buehler is expected to have the reins taken off for next season and Julio Urias showed a ton of promise in the postseason after his return from his own shoulder injury. Alex Wood is arbitration eligible and could be a free agent after next season. Kenta Maeda is still around, Rich Hill is still under contract for another year, and Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart, Caleb Ferguson and Dennis Santana are all pitchers with starting experience that are still under team control. Without making any more moves, the Dodgers are already plenty deep in the rotation. They’re also considered a favorite to sign Yusei Kikuchi, who was posted by the Seibu Lions. Brim wrote a great report on him, and if the Dodgers do sign him that would give them another left-handed starting option.
Ryu’s addition gives the Dodgers 39 players on the 40-man roster. Dustin wrote about the Dodgers’ Rule-5 eligible players and estimated that five players could be added to the roster. The Dodgers have some tough decisions to make and still don’t have a GM. Good times.
Ryu was the only one of seven players to accept the qualifying offer. Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, A.J. Pollock, Patrick Corbin, Bryce Harper and Craig Kimbrel all received and turned down the offer. The penalties differ based on a team’s financials, so should the Dodgers sign any of the five (not including Grandal), they will forfeit their second-highest draft pick in next year’s draft and lose $500,000 from their international slot money next signing period. If they sign two of these players, they’ll lose their third highest pick as well and an additional $500,000.
With the recent report that the Dodgers are looking to remain under the luxury tax for the forseeable future, Ryu’s contract cuts into that.
Hyun-jin Ryu’s return at $17.9 million puts the Dodgers 40-man roster at 39 players. 2019 CBT number is ~$144m, not including the 13 arbitration-eligibles https://t.co/QTEWyUuy3j
— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) November 12, 2018
The true Bad Place is trying to figure out anything related to baseball financials without Eric Stephen.