Yariel Rodriguez signing likely closes the door on reunion with Blue Jays fan favorite

Aug 27, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;  Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jay Jackson (35) delivers a
Aug 27, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jay Jackson (35) delivers a / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Morale is shockingly high amongst fans of the Toronto Blue Jays, as the club is reportedly in agreement on a four-year deal with pitcher Yariel Rodriguez. Rodriguez adds to the Jays' starting pitching depth, but there's a small amount of uncertainty surrounding players like Alek Manoah, so the new hurler on the staff should fill some of that void.

Rodriguez, 26, most recently served as a relief pitcher in Japan, he is expected to be brought to the Blue Jays as a starter, sources tell Jays Journal. He will need a spot on the 40-man roster, so another roster move is imminent.

All offseason long, the Blue Jays have had room for just one more pitcher, either a starter or reliever. There are a few optionable arms on the projected 2024 pitching staff, so bringing someone back - like Jay Jackson - remained a possibility.

The addition of Rodriguez likely closes the door on a reunion between Jackson and the Blue Jays. This is a bit of an unfortunate development for Jays (and Jay's!) fans, as the right-hander and his family became fan favorites during the 2023 season.

Jackson, 36, signed a minor league deal with the Jays during the 2022-23 offseason. He wound up making 25 big league appearances for the club, posting a 2.12 ERA and 202 ERA+. While he was not necessarily a candidate to close games, he earned some high-leverage innings as the year went on and became a reliable option out of the 'pen.

Jackson and his fiance Sam welcomed their son JR into the world as a premature baby in July. His due date was not until October, so the couple had to keep the little one in the NICU while Jackson did his best to do his job, often on the other side of the country. JR is now home, happy and healthy, but it was a long and winding road to get there, one Blue Jays fans happily took alongside Jay and Sam.

It was just one season, but Jackson and his family left a mark on Blue Jays fans, and it's disappointing that the business side of baseball is likely going to keep them from returning to Toronto - at least in 2024.

All offseason long, Jackson has been a sought after pitcher. Per sources close to the situation, he has received interest from 12 teams so far, nearly half the league. He is said to be seeking a guaranteed big league contract and there are a handful of teams considering offering him one. Jackson proved last year that he has what it takes to thrive in a big league bullpen, so it will be interesting to see where he lands.