Free agency is here, and even though Shohei Ohtani will understandably be the main prize, there are plenty of other intriguing possibilities to target. For the Phillies and the other 29 teams, this includes an intriguing candidate yet to play in the majors.
As per Sam Connon of Sports Illustrated, Yariel Rodríguez has been declared a free agent by the MLB commissioner's office. This means he is now allowed to officially sign with any Major League team as of Monday from 5 p.m. ET.
Rodríguez has been on the radar for Major League teams for a while. He thrived during this year's World Baseball Classic, starting two games for Cuba and allowing just two earned runs while striking out 10 in 7 1/3 combined innings.
According to MLB reporter Francys Romero, the Phillies are among the teams with an excellent chance of signing the 26-year-old. In fact, Romero lists them as one of the 10 strongest candidates to secure the pitcher's signature.
The belief is Rodríguez will receive a multi-year deal worth somewhere between $40-70 million. The Phillies have already proven they will spend the money but can expect significant competition in this respect from the likes of the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Dodgers, and Astros.
Yariel Rodríguez has impressed at every stop
The righty's primary weapons in his arsenal are his fastball and slider, while his curveball is also considered a strong off-speed pitch. As per Romero, he impressed in front of more than 15 MLB teams in his first tryout on Oct. 10 in the Dominican Republic, averaging 96.2 mph on his fastball, 84.9 mph on his slider and 76.7 mph on his curveball.
Rodríguez pitched three seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball with the Chunichi Dragons. During that time, he made 79 appearances out of the bullpen, recording a 3.03 ERA, 188 strikeouts, and 1.226 WHIP in a combined 175 1/3 innings.
Prior to this, the Cuban native was a starter for the majority of his time during six seasons in the Cuban National Series. He started 72 of 91 appearances, producing a 3.30 ERA, 357 strikeouts, and 1.396 WHIP in 464 1/3 combined innings.
As with the other teams scouting Rodríguez, it's unclear whether the Phillies envision him as a starter or a reliever. During the 2023 regular season, their rotation produced a 4.30 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, while the bullpen recorded a 3.58 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.