Rodriguez became one of the more intriguing options on the pitching market when he was granted a release from his contract with NPB’s Chunichi Dragons a month ago. He has been conducting showcases for MLB clubs in the few weeks since but was barred from officially signing with a major league team until today. There’s nothing to suggest he’ll sign imminently, of course, but this removes the procedural hurdle he still needed to clear.
A native of Cuba, Rodriguez turns 27 in March. That’s atypically young for a free agent pitcher. He worked out of the bullpen over parts of three seasons with the Dragons. Rodriguez had a dominating showing in 2022, when he pitched to a 1.15 ERA with a 27.5% strikeout rate over 54 2/3 innings. He worked as a starter for his home country during the World Baseball Classic. Once that event concluded, Rodriguez decided not to report back to the Dragons. He sat out the remainder of the 2023 season — the team placed him on the restricted list — before his camp secured his release.
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. This afternoon, Romero listed (on X) 10 clubs that had shown interest in the hurler: the Astros, Yankees, Rangers, Pirates, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Phillies, White Sox, Mets and Giants.