Baseball-Former Dodgers, Blue Jays pitcher Ryu returns to South Korea with Hanwha

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 1:30 AM

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – Former LA Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin has signed an eight-year, 17 billion won ($12.8 million) contract to return to his native South Korea with the Hanwha Eagles, the Korea Baseball Organization club said on Thursday.

The 36-year-old left-hander’s deal with the Eagles, where Ryu played from 2006 to 2012, includes the most guaranteed money ever for a KBO player.

The contract is the longest in league history. Ryu would be 44 and the KBO’s oldest-ever player if he sees out the deal.

Ryu said he always wanted to give something back to the Eagles for developing him as a player.

“Hanwha Eagles is a team that helped me become who I am today,” he said in a club statement. “Ever since I made it to the Major League, I have always thought that I would come back and return the favour.”

Nicknamed the “Korean Monster,” Ryu played six seasons for the Dodgers and spent four years with the Blue Jays, posting a 78-48 regular season record with a 3.27 ERA in 186 outings mostly as a starter.

In 2009 with the Dodgers, Ryu was selected as a starter at the All-Star Game and was the National League’s Cy Young Award runner-up in 2019, with a 2.32 ERA.

He began his professional career with the Eagles in 2006, when he became the first KBO player to win both the MVP and Rookie of the Year titles.

Ryu was 98-52 with a 2.80 career ERA through seven seasons in the KBO.

He helped South Korea reach the finals of the 2009 World Baseball Classic and win the gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games.

($1 = 1,328.8300 won)

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Peter Rutherford)