Toronto Blue Jays reportedly agree to contract with pitcher Yariel Rodriguez
By Zach Laing1 month ago
It may not have been the big, flashy early-offseason move from the Toronto Blue Jays, but their first move of significance has finally dropped.
That’s seen the Jays reportedly sign free agent right-handing pitcher Yariel Rodriguez, as reported by Francys Romero. Terms of the deal are not yet known at the time of publishing.
Toronto’s interest in Rodriguez goes back to earlier in the offseason, when Romero reported the Jays were one of 10 teams who were the “strongest candidates” to land the Cuban.
Rodriguez carries with him a fastball sitting in the 94-97 MPH range, as well as a dominant slider and a strong curveball. Romero, at the time, citing industry experts, believed Rodriguez would land a multi-year deal in the wide range of $40m-$70m.
He’s spent his most recent three seasons with the NPB’s Chunichi Dragons, wherein the 2022 season, he posted a 1.15 ERA in 54 and two-thirds innings, striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings. Across three seasons with the Dragons, he’s posted a 10-10 record across 175 and one-third innings, posting a 3.03 ERA and 1.226 WHIP. Along with it, 9.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and 7.1 H/9 rates.
Rodriguez sat out the 2023 NBP season, but he did play for Cuba at the World Baseball Classic, allowing two earned runs, issuing six walks and striking out 10 batters across seven and one-third innings in two starts.
Signing Rodriguez will fill the Jays’ 40-man roster, and recent reports project him as a depth starter in the Jays rotation. With Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikcuhi manning the top four spots in the rotation, Alek Manoah is looking to bounce back and claim that fifth spot in the rotation. Undoubtedly, the reported acquisition of Rodriguez ramps up the competition for that final spot.
It could also open up the possibility for the Jays to trade Manoah for the big lefty bat the club still covets a month away from when pitchers and catchers report. Rodriguez, too, could operate as a swingman for the Jays should Manoah remain, similar to how Ross Stripling did over his three seasons.
Undoubtedly, Rodriguez’s addition to the Jays already loading pitching staff brings added depth and further flexibility.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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