Blue Jays “optimistic” they’ll sign Cuban RHP Yariel Rodríguez but “immigration hurdles” have delayed deal

Brennan Delaney
1 month ago
It appears the Blue Jays are close to signing a player.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Jays are the frontrunners to sign starting pitcher Yariel Rodríguez. It appears the only thing stopping the Jays from signing him is issues stemming from immigration.
Rosenthal believes that Rodríguez is seen as a depth starter, which makes sense as the Blue Jays rotation is pretty set. As it stands, Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, José Berríos, and Yusei Kikuchi make up the top four spots. On top of that, they have 2022 American League Cy Young nominee Alek Manoah looking to have a bounce back season in the five spot, along with Mitch White and Bowden Francis fighting for that final spot.
Rodríguez didn’t pitch in 2023 after representing Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, so he’ll need to work up the innings to take up the starter’s workload. One way of doing this is taking on a bulk role in the Blue Jays bullpen before moving to the rotation in the second half of the season.
As a reliever in Nippon Baseball League in 2022, the Cuban had a 1.15 ERA along with a 27.5 K% and an 8.3 BB%. For his entire NPB career, Rodríguez had a 3.03 ERA in 175.1 innings pitched, along with a 25.4 K% and a 10.4 BB%.
Rodríguez started both games he pitched in during the World Baseball Classic for Cuba, allowing just two earned runs in seven and a third innings of work. He also struck out 10 batters of the 34 he faced (29.4 K%) while walking 17.7% of batters.
If the Blue Jays do end up signing Rodríguez, it could allow them to trade one of those four starters (probably Kikuchi) for a bat. As it stands, the team still needs a designated hitter, as well as either a third baseman or an outfielder, preferably both. The pathway to getting this type of bat is likely through a trade, as Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman will command massive contracts.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Jays do!

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