Yariel Rodriguez leaves Japan, eyeing jump to MLB

Yariel Rodriguez gained plenty of attention for his dominance during the World Baseball Classic. Now he is looking to cash in on that success.

According to Francys Romero, Rodriguez has left his contract with the Chunichi Dragons and Cuban Baseball Federation behind. He has traveled to the Dominican Republic where he will look to establish residency in an effort to sign with a major league franchise.

Yariel Rodriguez intriguing player for major league teams

Rodriguez is just 26 years old, but he has plenty of experience. He arrived in the Cuban National Series as an 18 year old, working his way into a starting role before heading to Japan. The Dragons used him as a reliever, a role in which he dominated. He posted a stellar 1.15 ERA and a 0.915 WHiP over his 54.2 innings, striking out 60 batters with 18 walks. Rodriguez followed that up by allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out ten batters over his 7.1 innings in the World Baseball Classic, although he did issue six walks. His performance will certainly attract attention, with Romero further reporting that major league scouts feel he could get a five year deal worth $50 million.

He also has the type of stuff that will get plenty of attention. Rodriguez has primarily used a mid 90s cutter that can reach 98 MPH and a mid 80s two plane slider as his primary offerings as a reliever. He also has a two seem fastball and a changeup that he mixes in and would presumably use more often if he returned to the rotation. The question is whether or not a major league team would be interested in him in such a role. While he is considered a potential back of the rotation arm, Rodriguez could be a high leverage reliever.

The question is whether or not he will be able to sign with a major league club. Cuba’s sports ministry had reported back on December 8 that Rodriguez signed a two year deal with the Dragons. However, there are questions as to whether or not he actually signed that deal. Rodriguez had not been a part of their spring training prior to the WBC as he trained with the Cuban National Team. Oscar Colas found himself in a similar situation when he attempted to come stateside, claiming his signature was forged.

There are still several hurdles to clear before he can sign with a major league organization. Rodriguez has to establish residency in the Dominican Republic. Major League Baseball has to declare that he is a free agent and allow him to sign with any club he chooses. But his contract status with the Dragons must be determined before anything happens.

Yariel Rodriguez has left Japan in an effort to join a major league organization. Landing in the Dominican Republic is just the first step of the journey.

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