Breaking: Blue Jays Sign Coveted Free Agent

It might not be exactly what fans in Toronto were clamouring for, but the Blue Jays have landed a somewhat significant free agent in Cuban right-hander Yariel Rodriguez, signing him to a multi-year contract.

According to industry sources, the deal is 4-years for $32 million. He’ll be the first Cuban-born pitcher in Toronto Blue Jays history.

Rodriguez became a sought-after commodity after last year’s World Baseball  Classic, as he showed off, among other things, his nasty slider. 

According to MLB insider Ken Rosenthal, Rodriguez would likely start the season as a depth rotation piece for the Jays, possibly even in AAA, as they need to build up his innings after he sat out last season instead of reporting back to the Chunichi Dragons in Japan where he'd spent the previous three years.

The soon-to-be 27-year-old had a dominant season as a reliever in Japan in 2022, posting a 1.15 ERA in 54 innings, along with a 0.91 WHIP and 10 strikeouts per nine innings. That was his third year in the bullpen in Japan, after having spent the earlier part of his career in Cuba as a starting pitcher. While in the rotation, he regularly posted ERAs in the low to mid threes, though his control was a bit suspect as he walked about five batters per nine innings during that time.

Rodriguez could act as insurance for the Jays for fifth starter Alek Manoah, who is still an unknown at this point after he bottomed out last season, including two trips to the minors and a mysterious absence from pitching late in the season. 

There is still a physical, and immigration issues to negotiate before the deal with Rodriguez becomes official.

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