Report: Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams interested in Cuban right-hander Yariel Rodríguez

Tyson Shushkewich
2 months ago
Per Francys Romero, the Toronto Blue Jays are one of the four teams still in the mix for Cuban right-hander Yariel Rodríguez. The Blue Jays were one of the first teams to be interested in Rodríguez earlier this winter as he threw bullpens in the Dominican Republic and continue to keep tabs on the 26-year-old as the offseason wears on.
Rodríguez is a six-year veteran of the Cuban National Series, the highest level of baseball on the island nation, dating back to 2015 when he was just 18 years old. Through 91 outings (72 starts), Rodríguez posted a 3.30 ERA and earned a 1.396 WHIP through 464 1/3 innings. Rodríguez has also represented Cuba on multiple international stages, most recently in the World Baseball Classic earlier this year where he made two starts while striking out ten and walking six batters.
For the 2020 season, Rodríguez took his talents overseas to Japan and joined the Chunichi Dragons of the Nippon Professional Baseball, signing a development deal. In his first year in Japan, the right-hander made 11 appearances in the Central League (the highest level) and pitched to a 4.12 ERA through 11 outings and 59 innings. He returned to the Dragons for the 2021 and 2022 seasons and finished his time posting a 3.03 ERA through 175 1/3 innings while striking out 188 batters, becoming a reliever and working exclusively out of the bullpen during his last season.

The Toronto Blue Jays remain interested in free-agent pitcher Yariel Rodríguez

With aspirations to sign an MLB deal, Rodríguez left the Dragons before the start of the 2023 campaign and sat out the season, eventually being placed on the restricted list as he made his way to the Dominican Republic to continue training (where he continues to train). The Dragons eventually released him from his contract in early October and the MLB declared him a free agent roughly a month later, allowing him to sign with any MLB of his choosing.
Romero predicted that Rodríguez could ink a multi-year deal likely in the $40-$70 million range while MLB Trade Rumours predicts a four-year, $32 million contract (although they do state they are not confident in the contract prediction). He likely won’t sign a deal until the Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes are over.
With a fastball able to reach 100 MPH, the jury is still out as to whether Rodríguez will work out of the rotation or the bullpen for the long term but it wouldn’t be surprising if the team that signs him gives him a shot to start even though he hasn’t pitched professionally since the World Baseball Classic. Alongside his fastball, Rodríguez boasts a full arsenal in a curveball, slider, splitter, and changeup and will likely make an immediate impact in the big league.


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