Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, is cautious about returning to his hometown team, the Hanwha Eagles.
Ryu visited the ballpark with Kim Ha-seong (San Diego) and Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) to watch the game between the LG Twins and KT Wiz in Game 5 of the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL Korean Series (best-of-seven)’ at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on March 13.
Ryu played for the Hanwha Eagles in the KBO from 2006 to 2012, compiling a career record of 98-52 with one save and a 2.80 ERA in 190 games (1269 innings) before signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Dodgers in 2013.
In 11 years with the Dodgers (seven years) and Toronto (four years), Ryu has compiled a 78-48 record with a 3.27 ERA in 186 career major league games (1055⅓ innings), one of the best careers of any player to make the jump from the KBO to the majors. This season, he had a successful comeback season after returning from his second Tommy John surgery, going 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 11 games (52 innings). Ryu, whose four-year, $80 million contract with Toronto ended this year, will become a free agent after the season.굿모닝토토
With Ryu Hyun-jin having the option to return to his hometown team Hanwha, many Korean baseball fans are eagerly awaiting his return. In particular, Hanwha, which is preparing to open a new stadium in 2025, is desperate for Ryu’s return.
However, Ryu has made it clear that he is prioritizing a major league contract. His agent, Scott Boras, has also ruled out a return to Korea, saying that Ryu will continue to pitch in the United States next year.
“I think I need to listen to offers from various clubs first. I think I’ll have some news around mid-December, so I’m just waiting. I don’t know yet. I came here today because I wanted to watch baseball. I haven’t seen it in almost 20 years, and I think it’s going to be fun.”
Ryu Hyun-jin, who visited Jamsil Stadium with Lee, who is about to enter the major leagues, said, “He is the best hitter in Korea and has skills that everyone knows, so I think he will do well if he adapts quickly.”
Lee is one of the best hitters in South Korea with a career batting average of .344 (3476-for-1181), 65 home runs, 515 RBIs, and an OPS of .898 in 884 KBO games. He’s looking to make the major leagues this winter. He had a career-high season last season, batting .349 (193-for-553) with 23 homers, 113 RBIs and a .996 OPS in 142 games, winning five batting titles (batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored and RBIs) and the league MVP, and this season, despite an injury that ended his season early, he was solid in 86 games, batting .301 (105-for-330) with six homers, 45 RBIs and an .861 OPS. With major league clubs showing interest, Lee is expected to receive the highest contract ever for a Korean player.
Kim Ha-seong became the first Korean player to win a Gold Glove (National League utility). He is only the second Asian player in history and the first Asian infielder. At the plate, he had a career-high season, batting .266 (140-for-538) with 17 home runs, 60 RBIs and a .749 OPS in 152 games.
In response, Ryu said, “I’m proud. I’m the first Korean player to win a Gold Glove and the first Asian infielder to win a Gold Glove. I think it’s really great and I think I’m satisfied with my performance this season.”