Rodriguez is another high-upside bet on the part of the Blue Jays front office. There were a handful of interested teams who wanted to see what the young Cuban righthander still has left in the tank. Toronto ultimately swopped him up and it could prove to be a critical signing.
Rodriguez is a tough one to project simply because he didn’t pitch at all in 2023 after making his cameo in the World Baseball Classic. He was very solid in the WBC, posting 7.1 innings of two earned runs, six walks and ten strikeouts. The main reason cited for his absence in 2023 was the desire to play in MLB and his representatives felt this was the best way to accomplish that.
In any event, Yariel most recently pitched in 2022 as a reliever. He posted a 1.15 ERA over 54.2 innings and didn't allow a home run. The lack of home runs is especially noteworthy and it will be fascinating to see how he adjusts in Major League Baseball. That concluded what had been a three-year run as a reliever in Japan.
I think a fair projection for Rodriguez is a role akin to that of a middle reliever. He is certainly getting paid on an annual basis like a high leverage reliever charged with getting big outs. The Blue Jays can't expect him to all of a sudden make 30+ starts in the rotation given his recent workload limitations. This guy could be a huge x-factor in the second half when the rest of the rotation could be in a very different spot than at the present moment.