December 28: ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reports (on X) that Boston, Pittsburgh and Toronto have all shown interest in Rodriguez as a starter. Cincinnati, San Diego and the Yankees prefer the right-hander in a relief role. Rojas indicates that Rodriguez prefers to start, although there’s no indication he has officially ruled out any teams targeting him in a bullpen capacity.
December 27: The Reds and Red Sox are among the teams still showing interest in free agent right-hander Yariel Rodriguez, tweets Francys Romero. Last week, Romero reported that the Pirates, Astros, Blue Jays and Yankees were also in the running.
Cincinnati hasn’t been frequently tied to Rodriguez throughout the offseason. The Reds were among roughly half the league that sent scouts to evaluate the righty’s throwing session in the Dominican Republic on October 10, a few days after he’d been granted his release from the NPB’s Chunichi Dragons. There hasn’t been much to connect the sides since that point, although it’s not especially surprising that Cincinnati is involved on one of free agency’s younger pitchers.
The Reds have made two major league additions to the pitching staff. Swingman Nick Martinez signed for two years and $26MM, while reliever Emilio Pagán inked a two-year, $16MM deal. President of baseball operations Nick Krall indicated that Martinez will compete for a rotation spot but stopped short of calling him a lock for the season-opening five.
Rodriguez falls into a similar category, as there’s some question about whether he’ll stick in an MLB rotation. The 26-year-old worked out of the bullpen with the Dragons in his final NPB season in 2022. He turned in a stellar 1.15 ERA while striking out 27.5% of opponents over 54 2/3 innings. His 8.3% walk percentage was right in line with the MLB average.
Despite the strong results in relief, it’s likely whichever MLB team signs Rodriguez will give him an opportunity to compete for a rotation spot. He had started in Cuba’s top league before his stint in Japan, and he worked out of the rotation for the Cuban national team during last spring’s World Baseball Classic. Clubs that feel Rodriguez has mid-rotation upside could entertain a noteworthy contract. One evaluator with whom MLBTR spoke before the beginning of the offseason suggested Rodriguez could land a guarantee between $30MM and $50MM.