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 has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. (Photo by Yuki Taguchi/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Cuban starting pitcher Yariel Rodriguez was declared a free agent by the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s office, Francys Romero of beisbolfr.com reported Friday.
Rodriguez, 26, was born in Camaguey, Cuba, and left for the Dominican Republic in March prior to the end of the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
There are 10 MLB organizations that are reportedly pursuing Rodriguez during the free agent signing period, including the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, and the San Francisco Giants.
Rodriguez threw in front of scouts at a showcase event over a few days at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, during late October.
Rodriguez had his fastball between 94-97 mph, and complimented it with an effective curveball and slider while facing hitters during simulated at-bats.
According to Anthony Franco of MLBTradeRumors.com, “MLB teams figure to have differing evaluations on Rodriguez’s viability as a starter. He’s an intriguing arm with promising stuff and success at the second-highest level of professional baseball in the world. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported last month that the Rays were among 15 teams with scouts in attendance for one of Rodriguez’s recent workouts in the Dominican Republic.”
Rodriguez, was released from his contract by the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball on October 5. The Dragons placed him on the restricted list in late March after he left from Havana.
According to Romero, “Several market experts believe that Rodríguez will reach a multi-year contract between $40 million and $65 million.”
Rodriguez started two games during the 2023 World Baseball Classic, recording a 2.45 ERA and throwing 7.1 innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs, walking six batters, and striking out 10 with a 1.50 WHIP. Rodriguez helped Cuba reach the semifinals at loanDepot Park in Miami, where they lost to the United States 14-2.
In the 2022 season with the Dragons, Rodriguez appeared out of the bullpen in 56 games, going 6-2 with a 1.15 ERA, throwing 54.2 innings and allowing 32 hits, seven earned runs, no home runs, 18 walks, and striking out 60 batters with a 0.915 WHIP.
During his three seasons in NPB, Rodriguez posted a 10-10 record with a 3.03 ERA, throwing 175.1 innings and allowing 138 hits, 59 earned runs, 12 home runs, 77 walks, and 188 strikeouts with a 1.226 WHIP.
Sports Agent Edgar Mercedes represents Rodriguez.