If Ryu leaves Toronto…is Kershaw the next best thing?
If Ryu leaves Toronto…is Kershaw the next best thing? Too unrealistic, there are 160km lefty prospects out there
Clayton Kershaw (35-LA Dodgers) has been mentioned as a possible replacement for free agent Hyun-jin Ryu (36) if he leaves the Toronto Blue Jays. However, this is just one of the candidates mentioned by the local media, not a realistic story.
The Toronto Star of Canada covered the alternatives for seven players set to become free agents in Toronto on Tuesday. Toronto has seven free agents: starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, third baseman Matt Chapman, first baseman Brandon Belt, center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, utility man Wiet Merrifield, and relievers Chad Green and Jordan Hicks.
According to the Toronto Star, “Toronto, which has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs three times in the last four years, faces an offseason of change with seven players and more than $60 million in payroll missing,” and has looked far and wide for alternatives, both internally and externally, if they don’t re-sign their internal free agents.
The first internal option for Hyun-jin Ryu is Alec Manoa. This is the most realistic and likely option. According to the Toronto Star, “Toronto’s starting rotation is largely dependent on Manoa, who was sent down to Triple-A Buffalo for the final two months of the season. If Manoa returns to his form of last year, he could easily take over Ryu’s spot, but that’s just a hypothetical.
Manoa, who made the leap to ace after finishing third in the American League (AL) Cy Young Award race in 2022, has struggled mightily this year, going 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA in 19 games (87⅓ innings). He was demoted to the minors twice and lost his starting job to Hyun-jin Ryu, who returned from injury in early August. At 25, he’s young enough to rebound, 먹튀검증토토사이트 but his worst performance in over a year doesn’t add up.
In addition to Manona, the Toronto Star lists Bowden Francis, Nate Pearson, and minor league left-handed prospect Ricky Tidman, who has pitched out of the bullpen this year, as additional internal options.
The 2002-born Tidman, ranked 31st overall in MLB Pipeline prospect rankings and first on Toronto’s team, has a four-seam fastball that sits up to 99.4 mph (160 km/h). The left-handed three-quarter has a sinking fastball, changeup, and slider. He’s been sidelined this year with shoulder and biceps soreness, but made a healthy return to the Arizona Fall League last week with a mid-to-high 90 mph fastball.
Outside options include veteran pitchers Sonny Gray (Minnesota Twins), Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies), Kershaw (Dodgers), and Blake Snell (San Diego Padres). With so many top-tier starters on the free-agent market, Toronto already has Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, and Chris Bassitt under long-term contracts.
Kershaw’s name has also come up as an alternative to Hyun-jin Ryu. The two pitchers, who spent seven years with the Dodgers from 2013-2019, are both lefties with similar strengths and weaknesses at this point in their careers. While neither has a fiery fastball, they have a wealth of experience, command, and a plus changeup. However, they are both in their mid-30s and have injury risks.
After recently signing a short-term, one-year deal with the Dodgers for the second straight year, Kershaw will be a free agent again. He’s been linked to a move to his hometown Texas Rangers for the past few years, but he’s stayed with the Dodgers. This year, after missing a month and a half with a shoulder injury, Kershaw expressed his thoughts on retirement at the end of the season. He proved it wasn’t for nothing when he pitched the worst game of his career, allowing six runs in ⅓ of an inning in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 8. At this point, it’s extremely unlikely that he’ll move to a third team other than the Dodgers or Texas.