MLB Free Agent Rumors: Yariel Rodríguez ‘Appeals Deeply’ To Teams

As Major League Baseball prepares for the upcoming Winter Meetings in Nashville, the Los Angeles Dodgers are among teams with their eyes set on the big-name free agents.

Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are two names that are presumed to be at the top of Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman’s wish list, but a lesser-known name in Yariel Rodríguez is one that has consistently popped up as being a hot name on the open market.

The 26-year-old most recently pitched with the Chunichi Dragons in Nippon Professional Baseball, dazzling in his most recent 2022 season. Rodríguez posted a 1.15 ERA and 0.92 WHIP while tallying 60 strikeouts over 54.2 innings.

His immense upside, mixed with some presumed untapped potential, is a lot of what has makes Rodríguez incredibly intriguing to teams: per Jeff Passan of ESPN:

Evaluators who have seen him throw since Chunichi released him from his contract say the 6-foot-1, 164-pound Rodriguez has an imposing presence. His fastball sits around 96 mph and touches 99, and his spin, which nears 2,600 rpms, would place him above the 95th percentile in all of baseball. He’s got a mighty slider, too, that spins around 2,900 rpms, which would be among the 10 best in all of MLB.

Rodríguez could receive a contract of at least four years, in the $32 million range, according to projections from MLB Trade Rumors. He’s on the lower-end of arms in free agency in dollar value, but at least 10 MLB teams have shown interest in signing him due to his projectable ability:

To get someone with Rodriguez’s stuff, at a young age, appeals deeply to teams’ models.

The Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are just a handful of clubs inquiring about him. All of whom have noted Rodríguez’s consistency through each showcase he’s held.

If Rodríguez does land a multi-year deal, teams have a right-hander with the capability to be used in various roles because of his success in both the NPB and in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

What role could Yariel Rodríguez play on the Dodgers?

Rodríguez has the ability to pitch in short stints as a reliever and he also has a five-pitch mix that would be best used as a starter if teams stretch him out. He may not have ace potential, but he could be a strong middle-of-the-rotation pitcher with flashes of upside.

Rodríguez throws a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, splitter, and a changeup. He was used as a starter with Team Cuba in the WBC, where he performed quite well.

In two starts for Team Cuba, Rodríguez posted a 2.45 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, with a .200 batting average allowed over 7.1 innings. He did struggle with his command, walking six batters, but countered with 10 strikeouts of his own.

The Dodgers would have to see what role suits his stuff best, a task that the front office would welcome given Rodríguez’s high-quality arsenal.

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