The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly close to finalizing a deal for Cuban right-hand pitcher Yariel Rodriguez. The deal is believed to be for four years and $32 million.
Rodriguez will join the Blue Jays without prior MLB experience. He played his early career in his native Cuba before signing with the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Chunichi Dragons. The 26-year-old also pitched for Cuba’s national baseball team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Rodriguez made 79 relief appearances with the Dragons between 2020 and 2022. He had a record of 10-10 during that time while posting a 3.03 ERA and getting 188 strikeouts.
Rodriguez didn’t play at all in 2023, opting not to return to the Dragons. The NPB side eventually released him, clearing the way for Rodriguez to sign with an MLB team. He only pitched in the World Baseball Classic last season, finishing the tournament with a 2.45 ERA and 10 strikeouts.
Reportedly, Rodriguez received quite a lot of interest from MLB teams in recent weeks. However, most of them were only willing to offer him the role of a reliever like he had with the Dragons. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, offered him a path to becoming a starter.