Blue Jays sign Hyun-Jin Ryu; Dodgers will have to find rotation upgrade elsewhere

Now that Hyun-Jin Ryu is off the board — he signed with the Blue Jays on Sunday night for $80 million over four years — the Dodgers are going to have to look elsewhere for a starting pitcher.

It’s almost Christmas and they haven’t made any additions to the 106-win roster other than signing reliever Blake Treinen. A good move on its own, no doubt, but in an offseason of elite and premium-level free agents, it has been a little disappointing.

Yes, I know Spring Training doesn’t begin tomorrow, but before too long there won’t be many free agents or trade targets remaining. At least, those who could improve the team.

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The Dodgers, famously, came up short in the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes. They didn’t really have a shot at Stephen Strasburg. Now, they’ve been linked to David Price (and Mookie Betts in a Red Sox salary dump) and Mike Clevinger (possibly in a package with Francisco Lindor). With Corey Kluber already having been traded to Texas, the chance for the Dodgers to upgrade the starting rotation is dwindling. Clevinger would be ideal, but there’s every chance he isn’t available and/or the Dodgers don’t meet the (appropriately) high asking price.

If no other starting pitcher is acquired, here’s what the Dodgers’ rotation looks like heading into 2020:

That doesn’t even include Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May, as well as other 40-man rosterees Dennis Santana and Mitchell White. The Dodgers can go nine deep on starters, but the quality of said starters isn’t what it was even last year, let alone previous years. They could still re-sign Rich Hill, but he won’t be ready until around July.

If the Dodgers are confident they can land a Clevinger or someone else of that ilk (and no, guys like Caleb Smith are not that guy; no disrespect), then maybe they won’t regret passing on Ryu. But if they don’t, there will be a lot of pressure on the likes of Gonsolin and May. Especially May, because he’s the Dodgers’ best pitching prospect and showed glimpses of top-of-the-rotation stuff in his brief MLB stint last year.

We’ll see if Andrew Friedman has anything up his sleeve. Clevinger would be great but also costly (and thus, much less likely to happen). Maybe there’s another starting pitcher out there the Dodgers have their sights set on. Or maybe they’ll just stand pat in the rotation and focus on upgrading the offense.

So far, though, Dave Roberts‘ prediction that this offseason could see some of the most roster turnover doesn’t look too good. There’s still time, but the options are getting fewer and fewer by the day.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.