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Blue Jays 40-man Roster Review: Toronto adds some much needed starting pitching depth by signing Yariel Rodríguez

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Ryley Delaney
3 months ago
From the looks of it, the Blue Jays will be signing Yariel Rodríguez.
With that being said, it’s not an official signing as of yet, as there are problems with immigration according to this article from Sportsnet. Still, it’s only a matter of time before it’s official and he’s added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster.
Rodríguez’s career started in Cuba as he pitched with Ganaderos de Camaguey, Lenadores de Las Tunas, and Gallos de Sancti Spiritus in the Cuban National Series, the top level of baseball on the island.
In the six seasons in Cuba, Rodríguez had a 3.30 ERA in 464.1 innings pitched, along with a 17.6 K% and an 11.7 BB% before he went to Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. With the Chunichi Dragons in NPB, Rodríguez had a 3.03 ERA in 175.1 innings pitched, along with a 25.4 K% and a 10.4 BB%. In his final season in 2022, Chunichi moved him to the bullpen, where he gained velocity and had more success.
Rodríguez also represented Cuba in the World Baseball Classic in 2023, where had a 2.45 ERA in 7.1 innings pitched, along with 10 strikeouts and six walks. This is where the 26-year-old became a household name, but he didn’t pitch with the Dragons in 2023.
The 26-year-old features a three-pitch mix. His bread and butter is his fastball that sits 94-96 mph, but higher in relief and lower as a starter. Rodríguez’s best off-speed pitch is his sweeper that sits 82-85 mph, while he also has a splitter that sits 87-89 mph and is still developing.
Heading into the 2024 season, the big question is what are the Blue Jays’ plans for Rodríguez? They seemed to be of a few teams interested in stretching him out as a starter, but with him not having pitched in a competitive game since 2023, that may not be feasible.
It’s widely speculated that Rodríguez will work his first season in a hybrid role, similar to what happened with Ross Stripling in 2022. He’ll get opportunities to spot start and fill in if the Jays need a starter, but it’s likely he’ll pitch in long relief in Bowden Francis’ role in 2023.
With that being said, the competition for his spot – whether that is as a starter or a long-man – is fierce. Alek Manoah will be looking to bounce back to his 2022-form that saw him finish third in Cy Young voting, while Mitch White is looking to impress in spring training because he’s out of options. Francis is likely the odd man out due to having an extra option year, but the Jays finally have starter depth.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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