LOS ANGELES -- Starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu accepted the Los Angeles Dodgers' $17.9 million qualifying offer on Monday, but starting catcher Yasmani Grandal declined it, a decision that will send him into the free-agent market. If Grandal ultimately signs elsewhere, the Dodgers would receive a pick between the second and third round of the 2019 draft as compensation.
Ryu was the only player to accept a qualifying offer this offseason and is only the sixth among 80 since the system began in 2012, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Those who also declined include outfielders Bryce Harper (formerly of the Washington Nationals) and A.J. Pollock (Arizona Diamondbacks), closer Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox), and starting pitchers Dallas Keuchel (Houston Astros) and Patrick Corbin (Diamondbacks).
The Dodgers will likely seek a catcher on a short-team deal to replace Grandal, as a stopgap before their promising prospects -- namely, Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith -- are ready to contribute at the major league level. With Ryu, the Dodgers have at least eight major league-ready starting pitchers heading into 2019. The list also includes Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias.
Ryu, 31, posted only a 1.97 ERA in 2018, fourth-lowest among pitchers who threw at least 80 innings, and had career bests in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.93) and WHIP (1.01). But a major groin injury limited Ryu to only 15 starts. And shoulder and elbow injuries prompted him to only compile 4 2/3 innings from 2015 to 2016.
Grandal, 30, was one of baseball's most productive catchers during the regular season, sporting an .815 OPS and 24 home runs. But poor defense prompted him to get benched in favor of Austin Barnes for the second straight postseason. Grandal sports a career .341 on-base percentage and consistently ranks within the top pitch framers in baseball. But he has committed a major league-leading 43 passed balls since 2014.