Yankees risk falling behind Blue Jays in pursuit of Cuban fireballer Yariel Rodriguez

Taichung (Taiwan), 08/03/2023.- Yariel Rodriguez of Cuba in action during the 2023 World Baseball Classic match between Cuba and Netherland at Taichung intercontinental baseball stadium in Taichung, Taiwan, 08 March 2023. (Países Bajos; Holanda)

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The New York Yankees, amidst an active offseason and numerous player pursuits, may be on the verge of missing out on one of their targeted acquisitions. Despite already enhancing their roster significantly by securing talents such as Juan Soto and Marcus Stroman, the Yankees are reportedly approaching the conclusion of their major moves, potentially limiting their additions to a reliever or two.

Yankees could face Cuban flamethrower in every division clash

In a surprising twist, the Toronto Blue Jays, a prominent rival of the Yankees, appear to be actively pursuing a player who was previously earmarked as a potential acquisition for the Bronx Bombers. The player in question is the Cuban fireballer Yariel Rodríguez, and while New York was initially considered a frontrunner, recent reports suggest that Toronto is now in the lead to secure his services. According to information from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays are optimistic about finalizing a deal with Rodríguez, who has been a target of considerable interest.

The speculation surrounding Rodríguez’s potential move to the Blue Jays gained momentum when, on December 29, ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reported that Toronto had taken a significant lead in the bidding for the Cuban right-handed pitcher. Rosenthal further emphasized this trend, noting that over the past 2 1/2 weeks, consistent reports have supported the idea that the Blue Jays are poised to secure Rodríguez. Despite their optimism, however, the completion of the deal has been hampered by immigration-related hurdles.

Yariel Rodríguez, who is set to turn 27 on March 10, boasts a pitching career that spans various leagues and roles. Initially, he served as a starter in Cuba from 2015 to 2019. In 2020, Rodríguez joined the Chunichi Dragons, a Japanese club, and delivered an impressive season as a reliever in 2022. Following his participation as a starter for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic last spring, Rodríguez opted to sit out the subsequent season instead of rejoining the Dragons. Major League Baseball recognized him as a free agent in November after his release from the Japanese club.

While the Yankees may have shifted their focus away from Rodríguez amid other player acquisitions, it appears that the Blue Jays are steadfast in their pursuit of the talented Cuban pitcher. With the potential signing of Rodríguez, Toronto could significantly bolster its pitching staff, adding a player who has showcased versatility and success in various roles. For the Yankees, this development could mean facing off against Rodríguez consistently within the division, highlighting the unpredictable nature of player acquisitions and the competitive landscape within the American League East.

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