Ryu Hyun-jin is only 25 but has already been pitching on the international… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
The Dodgers on Saturday further enhanced their image as baseball's new financial Goliath, winning a league-wide auction for the right to negotiate with South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin with a bid of $25.7 million
The rags-to-riches franchise will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Ryu, who is represented by Scott Boras. If a deal can't be reached, Ryu will remain with the Korean league's Hanwha Eagles and the Dodgers will be refunded their posting fee.
This marked the Dodgers' second major move in the international market since they were purchased by Guggenheim Baseball in the spring. In June, they signed Cuban outfield prospect Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42-million contract.
Ryu, 25, has been an All-Star in each of the seven years he has pitched in the Korean league. As a 19-year-old rookie, Ryu won the triple crown of pitching and was selected the league's most valuable player and rookie of the year.
"We've watched him pitch for a long time," General Manager Ned Colletti said. "A variety of people have seen him, both early in his career and more recently."
If the Dodgers sign Ryu, they expect him to be part of their starting rotation next season. But even if they land him, the team is expected to continue pursuing starting pitchers on the free-agent and trade markets. Hiroki Kuroda and Zack Greinke are among the Dodgers' targets.
Ryu throws a low-90s fastball, a curveball, slider and changeup. He is a five-time Korean league strikeout champion.
While Ryu has major league aspirations, Boras said he could remain in South Korea next season.
Among the determining factors: financial compensation and free agency.
Because Ryu is only 25, he could sign a short contract with the Dodgers that would allow him to enter the free-agent market while still in the prime of his career. Or he could remain in the Korean league for two more seasons, after which he would be a free agent and wouldn't be subjected to the posting system.
Boras pointed out that Ryu has worn No. 99 throughout his professional career. The last player to wear No. 99 for the Dodgers was Manny Ramirez, the once wildly popular outfielder who was disgraced by two drug suspensions.