Another day, another starter off the free agency market that the LA Angels failed to sign.
This time around the LA Angels lost out on Dallas Keuchel, who signed with the Chicago White Sox on a 3-year, $55.5 million deal. Keuchel was one of two true frontline starters left on the market, which makes this signing increase the panic in the Halo fanbase.
Now, the only option left is Hyun-Jin Ryu.
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The contrast between Keuchel and Ryu isn’t how they pitch: they’re both soft-tossing southpaws who would play well into the Angels defensive dominance on the left side of the infield. However, their durability, ceiling, and floor is what separates them.
Keuchel has rarely been injured in his career. His ceiling in the past few years is not that of his Cy Young season in 2015, but his floor has been relatively high. He was the safer option of the two, making him more appealing to the Angels. They’ve acquired both Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran this offseason who are both durable, inning-eating pitchers. Keuchel fits that bill. He is also the younger option.
Hyun-Jin Ryu does not offer that same durability. He has missed time in nearly every one of the seasons he has pitched in the MLB. However, his ceiling as a pitcher is that of a true ace. Just last season, Ryu was flirting with the best ERA since the mound was lowered. Injuries and fatigue derailed that, but there’s no doubt Ryu is the better pitcher at his peak.
That also makes his price higher. While Keuchel’s deal was at a $18.5 million AAV, Ryu is reportedly seeking between $20-25 million every year. Being the last top-end starting pitcher left on the market will only increase team’s desperation, and thus his price tag as well.
In a Twitter poll done starter prior to Keuchel’s signing, it was obvious Halo fans preferred the safer option than the risk that Ryu brings, even with his elite level of pitching in 2018 and 2019.
Now, the Angels don’t have an option. They’ve obviously improved their rotation this offseason, but they still have the hole of a top starter to pair alongside Shohei Ohtani. Hyun-Jin Ryu is the only option left, and is a necessary risk. Billy Eppler can take this offseason from good to great if he can bring the lefty to Anaheim.