When last we saw Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodriguez, he was leaving Japan behind.
He had been a stellar reliever for the Chunichi Dragons for the previous three years after proving himself in the Cuban National Series. Rodriguez had dominated for the Cuban team in the World Baseball Classic as well, showing that he could handle major league caliber players. That was enough for Rodriguez to leave the Cuban Baseball Federation and defect to the Dominican Republic, refusing to return to Japan as he eyed his major league dream.
That dream is getting closer. The Dragons had placed Rodriguez on the Restricted List in March. Francys Romero reported on Thursday that the Dragons released Rodriguez, allowing him to begin his quest to head to the majors.
Yariel Rodriguez closer to major leagues
It is going to take some time until Rodriguez is able to sign. Romero noted that Rodriguez’s agent is going to begin the process of having him declared a free agent soon, but it may be months until he is eligible. However, once he can field offers, Rodriguez is expected to earn a deal of approximately five years between $50 and $70 million.
Rodriguez will have plenty of suitors. His primary offerings are major leauge caliber; a plus mid 90s cutter that has been clocked as high as 98 MPH and a mid 80s slider with two plane break. Rodriguez also has a changeup and a two seamer that he used as a starter. His arsenal should be enough to make him a middle of the rotation starter. If he stays in the bullpen, he could be a weapon in the seventh or eighth inning.
His landing spot could depend on what type of role he wants. Rodriguez will get plenty of attention as a reliever and could immediately land on a contender. He may not have as many options as a starter but could end up with a better contract. But it also depends on how major league teams view Rodriguez as well.
Yariel Rodriguez is getting closer to his major league dream. It is now a matter of paperwork and entering free agency.