‘FA Ryu Hyun-jin conundrum’ One-year contract vs. multi-year contract, Boras’ strategy was a huge success five years ago…

With the Toronto Blue Jays’ Hyun-jin Ryu expected to receive a lucrative multi-year contract in free agency after this season, attention is turning to the strategy of his agent, Scott Boras.

In an article titled “9 prospective free agents who need to finish 2023 on a high note,” MLB.com wrote on Aug. 8, “Ryu is unlikely to get a four-year, $80 million deal like he did last time, but if he continues his steady pace, a lucrative multiyear pact could be in his future.

MLB.com ranked Ryu seventh out of nine. Even if it doesn’t mean anything in terms of the free agent rankings that the major media outlets compile each offseason, being in the “top nine” is an indication that you’re in demand, and therefore a candidate to receive a lot of offers.

A multiyear contract is literally a contract for more than two years. MLB.com believes that Ryu could be in the majors for at least two more years.

So how does Boras, a “master negotiator” and “free agent strategist,” package the “product” Ryu and sell it for a price?

Boras sees pre-free agency performance and scarcity as important bargaining chips. He believes that a player needs at least one season of healthy play, and he needs to appeal to his unique strengths to get the money he wants.

Take Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger, another of Boras’ clients.

“Demand is always created by scarcity, and when you have a five-tool player (like Cody) at a young age with a high level of skill who can hit, run, and power bat as a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder and first baseman, it’s a rare commodity in the major leagues,” Boras said in a USA Today interview on March 28, “and the demand for that kind of player is very, very high.”

As is well known, Bellinger hit free agency last winter after being cut by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2019 NL MVP was released by the Dodgers after three years of injury and underperformance, and Boras said he was looking for a one-year deal in free agency. Some teams were willing to guarantee him more than two years, but the Cubs offered him a “1+1” with a mutual option for 2024.

It was a very strategic move. The idea was to have the mutual option as a safety valve, and to play well this year and then go back to free agency and try to get a decent deal. Boras’ strategy seems to be working. Bellinger has had a spectacular resurgence this season. As of today, he’s batting .320 with 24 home runs, 86 RBIs, 84 runs scored, 19 doubles, and a .916 OPS. He’s fourth in the NL in batting average and fifth in OPS. He missed a month with a knee injury, but his home runs and RBIs are still in the top 10. It’s safe to say he’s back to his 2019 form.

USA Today quoted Boras as saying, “Bellinger will be very expensive. He could command more than $200 million, possibly more than $300 million.

This strategy presents a “conundrum” for Boras, who has only played two months since returning from elbow surgery. It’s hard to imagine him commanding more than $20 million per year. A one-year deal like Bellinger’s might be in order.

However, this strategy is not unfamiliar to Ryu Hyun-jin. In 2018, his first free agency season after joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was injured and rehabbed from early May to mid-August. Upon his return, he pitched brilliantly, going 4-3 with a 1.88 ERA in nine games. Naturally, he went into free agency expecting to command a hefty price tag, but Boras had other ideas. He accepted the Dodgers’ $17.9 million qualifying offer (QO). The strategy was to have one more good season and then hit the free agent market again, and it worked. Ryu increased his value by pitching a Cy Young Award-winning season in 2019 and landed a four-year, $80 million deal.

It’s a different situation and environment than in 2018, given the variables of age and health. Signing a one-year or 1+1 year deal, pitching full-time next year at the top of his game, and then trying to hit the jackpot again may not be the best idea. He’s approaching 40, so it’s unclear if he’ll be able to command a multi-year deal in free agency at the end of next year with an average salary of $20 million or more. So he’s more likely to take a deal that guarantees him at least two years.먹튀검증

How Boras will explain this strategy to Ryu and convince him is still a question mark. What is certain is that teams are starting to take notice of the free agent.

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