The Eve of New Year’s Eve, and once again, there isn’t much for news.
Enrique Rojas from ESPN tells us that the Jays ‘have taken the lead in the race to sign Yariel Rodríguez’. He’s coming over from the NPB. He’ll be 27 at the start of the 2024 season, a RHP, who had a 1.15 ERA in 54.2 innings, 18 walks and 60 strikeouts. In 3 NPB seasons he has a 3.03 ERA in 175.1 innings, with 77 walks and 188 strikeouts.
In Japan, he was a reliever. Before that, he was a starter in Cuba and would like to be a starter here. Fangraphs has him as their number 33 free agent this off-season. They wrote:
Rodriguez’s fastball experienced a nearly three-tick velocity bump in 2022, going from sitting 92-93 mph to sitting 94-96 and touching 100 in a relief capacity for the Chunichi Dragons. The added velocity came with (and was likely because of) a full-time move to the bullpen, and Rodriguez posted a 1.15 ERA in his 54.2 innings. Then Rodriguez pitched for Cuba’s 2023 WBC team as a starter. After a rough-looking February tuneup before the actual competition began, he was nasty across 65-70 pitches in each of his two WBC starts, when Yariel sat 95, touched 98, and bent in a good vertical breaking ball in the 83-87 mph range. After his WBC performance, Rodriguez chose to opt out of the 2023 NPB season and focus on training to come to MLB the following year. Chunichi put him on the restricted list and Rodriguez wasn’t heard from until October, when he threw live BP for teams in the Dominican Republic and looked like his usual self.
I kind of think he’d be best in the 2-3 inning relief role, but then I haven’t seen him. A player like that could be very valuable. FanGraphs figures he’ll get 3 years at $10 million per year. That’s not a ton of money.
If they sign him as a starter, then they would have a starter to dangle in trade talks.
Other than that, the team has officially announced the signings of Kiermaier and Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Joey Votto tweeted this:
Being a free agent is like that scene from Gravity where Sandra Bullock detaches from the Explorer. You’re all alone, no one is answering your calls, and you don’t know if you’ll get back to base. Your only hope is George Clooney saving you.— Joey Votto (@JoeyVotto) December 28, 2023
Save me, George.
I wish there was something more to talk about, like a signing of a big bat. I am starting to think the Jays may end up hoping that they have of those Hallmark romance movies going, where they find out that that love (big bat) they were looking for was right in front of them (in their minor league system) all the time.