9:40am: The Athletic’s Caitlin McGrath report The fifth year of Rodriguez’s contract has a player option worth $6 million. If Rodriguez declines that option, the team could exercise his $10 million club option.Frances Romero’s contract could be worth $36 million over five years report The total value could reach up to $40 million, suggesting additional incentives are built into the deal.
9:12am: After a long wait, the Blue Jays officially announced the signing of the right-handed pitcher. Yariel Rodriguez. According to the team, Rodriguez’s contract is for five years and $32 million, compared to the previously reported four-year, $32 million deal. To make room on the 40-man roster, Toronto designated a utility man. Otto Lopez for a mission. Rodriguez is co-president of WME and Born To Play.
It’s been more than three weeks since Rodriguez and the Jays agreed to terms, but they haven’t been able to finalize a deal while he waits for a visa to allow him to enter Canada or the United States. It has been expected that whenever Rodriguez obtains the necessary documents to enter either country, a physical examination will be completed and the deal will be completed soon.
Rodriguez, who is only 26 years old, starred for Los Ganaderos de Camagüey in his native Cuba and for Japan’s professional baseball team Chunichi Dragons. His performance in NPB in particular caught the attention of major league scouts, and for good reason. Rodriguez’s 3.03 ERA over three seasons with the Dragons is impressive in itself, but in his most recent season he pitched a dominant 54 2/3 innings with a 1.15 ERA and 27.5 strikeout rate out of the Chunichi bullpen. %, with a walk rate of 8.2%.
Of course, it should be noted that these numbers were obtained during the 2022 NPB season, not 2023. Rodriguez pitched for Team Cuba during last year’s World Baseball Classic, but did not return to the Dragons for the 2023 season, which was his goal. Transfer to Major League Baseball. The Dragons placed him on the restricted list for the 2023 season and granted his release in early November. Since then, he has hosted multiple MLB team showcases and is considered one of the most attractive free agents on the market.
Of course, Rodriguez is also one of the most volatile free agents to play this winter. It’s very difficult to predict how much of a player’s success in the Cuban National Series or NPB will carry over to an MLB setting, but it gets even more complicated if he didn’t even pitch in the previous season outside of briefings. Participated in WBC. There are certainly some positives, but given the long layoff, adjusting to a new culture, and overall stepping up in off-level competition, Rodriguez’s time in MLB, especially in his first season, is reasonable. It will be wide-ranging.
It’s not yet clear what role Rodriguez will play with the Jays. He made a few starts in NPB, but worked primarily as a reliever, and his final season with the Dragons he worked exclusively as a reliever. He will return to Cuba and practice primarily in Camaguey’s rotation. Toronto general manager Ross Atkins released a statement today praising Rodriguez’s ability to make swings and misses, going on to say he hopes he will not only provide “starting depth” but also serve in multiple roles within the team. He said it could be done.
Given Rodriguez’s long layoff from pitching, and an even longer layoff due to a full starting pitcher’s workload, it would be surprising to see him join the Jays’ rotation right away. He’ll likely be hit with an innings cap this year, and it’s even possible that Toronto might want to let him do some work in Triple-A before pushing him into the MLB spotlight. Logically speaking, it’s natural to think he could play a long relief/spot starter role and rack up innings this year with the aim of stepping into the rotation in 2025 on a more permanent basis. Thing. But Rodriguez clearly has the talent to also pitch in that kind of leverage role if the Jays need it in the late innings.
Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser talks about Rodriguez and several other international free agents (Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Shota Imanaga, Lee Jung Hoo, Yuki Matsui, Usokugo) Earlier in the offseason, I wrote that Rodriguez’s fastball reaches around 96 miles per hour, sometimes reaching triple digits. Coach Glazer said Rodriguez’s power thrower’s slider was above average, but he called his splitter “subtle” and his curveball “below average.” The Jays could certainly help the 6-foot-1 Rodriguez hone some of his offspeed weapons, even if he operates “only” with a plus heater and an above-average slider. , that might be enough to make him a viable big league setup man. Multi-inning relief pitcher.
Lopez, 25, will either be traded within the next week or waived permanently. The right-handed hitter has played sparingly in the major leagues over the past two seasons, hitting six singles in 10 at-bats. Lopez hit .297/.378/.415 in 391 Triple-A at-bats in 2022 and appeared to be on the verge of advancing to the majors in search of a bigger opportunity, but his bat in 2023 proved to be a major step backwards. by a slimy .258/.313/.343 slash in his 346 plate appearance at the same level.
Scouting reports on Lopez tout his superior batting tools and speed, but he has never exceeded five home runs in a season and has hit just seven long balls in 931 Triple-A at bats. As evidenced by this fact, his power is at the lowest level. exterior. He has 90 base hits in 518 minor league games, but his success rate is only 70.8%. Lopez has played second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield, but skeptics question whether he has the arm to play on the left side of the infield.
Lopez is out of minor league options, meaning he must be on the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster or be traded elsewhere or placed on waivers (possibly after a DFA). It would be. The Jays made this move proactively instead of using Lopez throughout spring training. He will now be available to 29 other clubs via trade or waivers, but the team that acquires him will have to either put him on their opening roster or pass him on waivers before demoting him to the minors. .