Yariel Rodriguez of Team Cuba reacts while leaving the mound in the third inning during the 2023 World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal game between Team Australia and Team Cuba at Tokyo Dome on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. Rodriguez is reportedly in the Dominican Republic seeking an MLB contract. (Photo by Yuki Taguchi/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
Yariel Rodriguez, who pitched in the 2023 World Baseball Classic for Cuba, has his team in Japan to pursue a contract with an organization in Major League Baseball, Francys Romero of BeisbolFR.com reported.
Rodriguez was expected to play for the Chunichi Dragons of Nippons Professional Baseball in Japan in 2023, and his status there is unclear. Cuba has allowed players to leave the country to play in Japan in recent years.
Romero reported that the right-hander has left Cuba and is now in the Dominican Republic, where he will seek free agency. As a 26-year-old with more than six seasons of professional experience, a team signing Rodriguez would not be subject to MLB’s restrictions on bonuses given to international free agents.
In two starts for Cuba during the World Baseball Classic, Rodriguez threw 7.1 innings, allowing five hits and two walks, striking out 10 and walking five. He throws a four-seam fastball that tops out around 98 mph, and mixes in a changeup and a slider.
Over three seasons with Chunichi, Rodriguez has thrown 175.1 innings in 79 appearances, posting a 3.03 ERA with 188 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.226. He’s also played in the Cuban Serie Nacional with Camaguey, Las Tunas and Sancti Spiritus, appearing in 91 games and throwing 464.1 innings with an ERA of 3.30 and 357 strikeouts.