80-Game Ban Over, Yankees Sign Former Top Reliever

At last year's trade deadline, he was one of the hottest relievers on the market, contenders of all kinds were clamoring for him. Since then, it's been a precipitous fall from grace for Richard Rodriguez. First, losing his ability to strike people out, then testing positive for PEDs and earning an 80-game suspension from MLB.

The New York Yankees have "quietly" taken a gamble and signed the former late-inning star to a minor league contract.

Current Yankees closer Clay Holmes, a former teammate of Rodriguez's with the Pittsburgh Pirates, raves about him“Rich is awesome,” Holmes said. “He was fun to watch. … He’s just fearless.” 

Yankees GM Brian Cashman is looking forward to Rich-Rod getting major-league ready. “He’s served his suspension. There’s no restrictions. He’s down in Tampa currently rocking some rust out. Then he’ll obviously join an affiliate and get it going and try to put himself into position help and be a consideration sometime.”

The 32-year-old Rodriguez had 14 saves for the Pirates in the first half last season, but after his trade to the Atlanta Braves, completely lost the ability to miss bats. He struck out just 9 batters in 26 innings for the Braves, and allowed six home runs. The Braves decided not to offer him a contract for 2022. 

Then came the PED suspension in April. The 80-game ban is up, and Rodriguez will attempt to become a factor for the Yankees later in the 2nd half.

Photo Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports