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Dodgers, Cubs said to be among suitors for S. Korean pitcher Ryu
By Yoo Jee-ho
BUSAN, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- At least two Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs have submitted bids for the service of South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, sources said Friday, as the South Korean league awaits confirmation from the MLB.

   The Los Angeles Dodgers are interested in the 25-year-old pitcher, an informed source in the U.S. told Yonhap News Agency Friday.

  Earlier, Chicago Tribune newspaper reported that the Chicago Cubs were among teams that handed in bids for Ryu. The deadline for teams to submit bids in the posting process was 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday.

   Los Angeles has one of the largest Korean communities in the U.S., and the Dodgers have employed South Korean players before, including pitchers Park Chan-ho and Seo Jae-weong, and first baseman Choi Hee-seop.

   Choi has also played for the Cubs. Several South Korean high school players have joined the Cubs' minor league teams in recent years.

   The Hanwha Eagles of the KBO posted Ryu earlier this month and the four-day bidding period commenced after the KBO notified MLB of the pitcher's availability.

  
Ryu Hyun-jin of the Hanwha Eagles. (Yonhap file photo)



The Eagles now have four business days to decide if they are going to accept the highest of the sealed bids.

   KBO officials here in Busan, where the league is running the Asia Series tournament, said they have not yet heard from MLB commissioners' office regarding the bids. The KBO will at first learn only the bid amount, not the team that made it.

   Other reports have claimed the Texas Rangers, the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox are also interested in Ryu.

   If the Eagles decide to accept the highest bid, which is non-negotiable, the MLB club will have the exclusive right to negotiate with Ryu for 30 days. If the two sides reach an agreement, the Eagles will take the bid money as a transfer fee for the pitcher.

   If the Eagles reject the bid, the posting will be withdrawn and Ryu will not be able to re-enter the bidding until Nov. 1 next year.

   If the given MLB club and Ryu fail to reach a contract, then Ryu will also be barred from getting posted until Nov. 1, 2013.

   The Eagles have said they would accept a bid only if it is appropriate for a pitcher of Ryu's caliber, and Ryu himself has said he will not leave for the big leagues unless the bid is good enough.

   Both the team and the player have declined to elaborate on what constituted such a bid.

   Ryu, 25, joined the KBO in 2006 as a second overall draft pick out of high school and made an immediate impact, becoming the first player to win both the MVP and the Rookie of the Year honors in the same season. He went 18-6 with a 2.23 earned run average (ERA) in his first year, with a KBO rookie record 204 strikeouts.

   He has since been one of the KBO's most dominant starters. He averaged almost 15 wins a season from 2006 to 2010 but was limited to nine wins this year on the league's worst team, despite posting a 2.66 ERA. He has led the KBO in strikeouts in five different seasons.

   The thick-bodied pitcher, listed at 187 centimeters and 98 kilograms, has averaged more than 181 innings per season and has pitched more than 200 innings in two different seasons.

   He can reach up to 150 kilometers (93 miles per hour) with his fastball, and can also throw a changeup and slider as his out pitches.

   Ryu became eligible for posting this fall by completing his seventh KBO season. As the Eagles staggered to a last-place finish in the eight-team KBO, Ryu repeatedly said he wanted to compete in the majors next year.

   Ryu needed consent from the Eagles to be posted and the club, after weeks of indecision, agreed to grant the player's wish in late October.

   Ryu was an integral part of the South Korean national team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished runner-up at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

   Four different KBO players have been posted in the past. Left-hander Lee Sang-hoon of the LG Twins commanded US$600,000 in the bidding in 1998 and the Twins rejected the offer. Lee later went to Japan and joined the majors as a free agent.

   Pitchers Jin Pil-jung, formerly of the Doosan Bears, and Lim Chang-yong, ex-reliever for the Samsung Lions, drew $25,000 and $650,000, respectively, in December 2002, and their KBO clubs both turned down the bids.

   In 2009, relief pitcher Choi Hyang-nam signed with the St. Louis Cardinals following a bid of $101, but he only spent time in the minors before returning to the KBO.

   Last December, the Texas Rangers submitted a record $51.7 million bid for the Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish. He later signed a six-year deal worth $60 million.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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