MLB Rumors: Cuban Pitcher Yariel Rodriguez Declared Free Agent

Major League Baseball is in the early stages of free agency, and with the annual General Managers Meetings wrapped up, teams should be expected to begin building out their rosters for next season.

Big-name players such as Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Matt Chapman, Blake Snell, Aaron Nola and others will be the most discussed, but a lesser-known commodity in Yariel Rodriguez is also out there. The 26-year-old Cuban right-hander has spent the last three years pitching in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Rodriguez was mainly used a relief pitcher by the Chunichi Dragons, posting a 1.15 ERA over 54.2 innings in 2022, his most recent season. After pitching in the World Baseball Classic for Team Cuba, Rodriguez didn’t report back to the Dragons, who released him from his contract last month.

MLB has now cleared Rodriguez to become a free agent, according to international reporter Francys Romero:

His representation, Edgar Mercedes, has previously helped Yoenis Céspedes, Yunesky Maya, Luis Robert Jr. join the MLB ranks as international free agents.

Rodriguez has been training in the Dominican Republic, and MLB teams will continue to evaluate what he brings to the table. Teams could opt to use him as a reliever, as Rodriguez was while pitching in the NPB, or build him up as a starter, as he was utilized for Team Cuba earlier this year.

He will turn 27 in March, and should have a bevy of teams vying for his services because of the immense upside Rodriguez has shown in his still early career.

Could the Dodgers use Yariel Rodriguez?

With the Los Angeles Dodgers having a need for pitching, a high-ceiling arm like Rodriguez is definitely someone president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman could opt to pursue.

Rodriguez’s status as a swingman type is very valuable, but for a pitcher with a lot of unknowns, a contract of five or six years might not age too well. He possesses a five-pitch mix with a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, splitter and changeup.

Unless the Dodgers believe Rodríguez is a sure thing, their reported interest might be just checking in on all options.

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