MLB reporter Francys Romero says the Jays are in agreement with Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodriguez:
Cuban right-hander Yariel Rodríguez (26) and the Toronto Blue Jays are in agreement on a contract, per sources.— Francys Romero (@francysromeroFR) January 17, 2024
Rodríguez is expected to do the physical in the coming days in Toronto.
He is represented by WME agency and Edgar Mercedes from Born to Play. pic.twitter.com/o1Wddu2Nit
Terms haven’t been revealed yet. The news isn’t a huge surprise, as they’ve been strongly linked to Rodriguez throughout his free agency and have been “in their lead” of the bidding for his services for weeks, with reports yesterday that is was all but a done deal pending visa paperwork.
He’ll be an interesting addition to the Jays. Fangraphs had him as the sixth best pitcher not signed with an MLB team coming into the winter. His fastball, which ticked up from 92-93mph to 94-96mph and touched 100 in 2022, grades as plus, and his slider earns a rare double-plus 70 on the 20-80 scale, with a fringy curve and changeup rounding out his arsenal and roughly average command. There are questions about whether that stuff would carry over if Rodriguez were moved to the rotation, although he did appear to hold it in a pair of 70ish pitch starts with Cuba’s WBC squad last spring. Reports have been that he wants a shot at starting and that the teams most likely to land him were those inclined to give him that chance.
Rodriguez, 27 this spring, had been signed with NPB’s Chunichi Dragons, but opted to sit out the entire 2023 NPB campaign to train for a move to MLB. He’s since been granted his release and is a true free agent with no posting fee owed to the Dragons for his signing. He was last seen in a showcase for Major League scouts in the fall and reportedly impressed.
MLB Trade Rumors projected him to earn a four year deal worth $32m this winter, but there’s necessarily a lot of uncertainty with a player like this. Jordan Hicks, a similar big stuff reliever hoping to transition to the rotation, got $44m over four years from the Giants earlier this winter. Rodriguez, lacking an MLB track record, will surely earn less, suggesting MLBTR’d projection is probably in the ballpark.
I’ll hold off on posting a poll until we know terms, but what are your impressions of the signing? Personally, I think it’s an interesting compromise between bringing in an established MLB starter to take the 5th slot in the rotation and just handing that job back to Alek Manoah. Rodriguez’s stuff should play as a setup man if he doesn’t work out as a starter, making the bullpen even deeper. If it’s for reasonable terms I’m happy.
Update: the terms are now in, and MLBTR was apparently dead on with their projected $32m over four years.
How Do You Feel About Signing Yariel Rodriguez for Four Years and $32m?
This poll is closed