Yankees have their eyes on Cuban heat-seeking bullpen arm

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are known for their strategic approach to building a strong bullpen. As the team anticipates the departure of Wandy Peralta to free agency, the Yankees’ management is actively searching for new pitching talent to fill the potential gap.

The Search for New Pitching Talent

Pitching coach Matt Blake has a reputation for extracting peak performances from pitchers such as Ian Hamilton and Clay Holmes in recent seasons. Continuing in this vein, Blake is on the lookout for fresh talent. A Cuban relief pitcher seeking to transition to Major League Baseball may be an ideal candidate for the Yankees.

Potential Recruitment of Yariel Rodriguez

Cuban right-handed pitcher Yariel Rodriguez is garnering attention for his impressive bullpen sessions, where he has been clocked at 97 mph on his fastball. He also brings a curveball and a slider to his pitching repertoire. Journalist Francys Romero notes that the Yankees are among 10 teams interested in Rodriguez, who has consistently performed well in his tryouts.

Romero’s statement: “Waiting for free agency, Rodríguez threw 94-97 MHP in three consecutive tryouts with dominant pitches such as the curve and slider.”

Despite Romero’s prediction of a possible $40-70 million multi-year deal for Rodriguez, such a high figure is questionable for a bullpen pitcher, especially one without MLB experience.

Contract Speculations and Rodriguez’s Track Record

A more realistic contract for Rodriguez might be a modest one-year deal, allowing the Yankees to evaluate his capabilities in the big leagues. His record from the JPCL is impressive — he hasn’t pitched since 2022, where he maintained a 1.15 ERA across 54.2 innings and achieved 60 strikeouts while only allowing seven earned runs.

Rodriguez’s Future Prospects

At 26, Rodriguez is at an age considered prime in his career. Free from contractual obligations and aiming to prove himself in Major League Baseball, he represents a promising opportunity for a team willing to harness his potential. Under the guidance of a coach like Matt Blake, Rodriguez’s transition to the majors could be a significant gain for the Yankees’ bullpen.

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