Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington has some big tasks ahead of him this offseason. One of them is finding ways to make the pitching core better and more competitive heading into 2024.
Cherington said they will use any and all means necessary to add to the pitching depth, and fans might have gotten a preview of that on Tuesday as team officials were on hand for Cuban star pitcher Yariel Rodriguez’s tryout.
Fans might remember Rodriguez from his stint in the recent World Baseball Classic, where he collected 10 strikeouts in a little more than seven innings for his native country.
Cuban ace RHP Yariel Rodriguez (26) impressed yesterday in his first tryout with more than 15 MLB teams watching in the Dominican Republic.— Francys Romero (@francysromeroFR) October 11, 2023
After 6 months without active play, the speed, pitch movement and spin rate are there.
FB (9 pitches) 96.2 MPH / 2586 Spin
SL (6 pitches)… pic.twitter.com/7diQMoQQYL
Rodriguez was released from the Chunichi Dragons of the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. He spent all of 2023 on the restricted list while training in the Dominican Republic, according to FanNation.
Despite missing the season, though, it seems that Rodriguez hasn’t missed a beat.
Since joining Chunichi in 2020, Rodriguez posted a collective 10-10 record with a respectable 3.03 ERA in a little more than 175 innings.
His overall numbers are also formidable. Since starting his professional career in 2015, the 26-year-old amassed a 48-38 record in 195 games with a 3.06 ERA and 645 strikeouts.
While he started his career as a starter, he’s become a reliable reliever over the past few seasons, even garnering a 1.15 ERA in just under 55 innings with Chunichi.
Rumors are circulating that, once Rodriguez applies for MLB Free Agency, his asking price will be anywhere between $50 to $70 million over five-plus years, which makes sense given he’s managed by Edgar Mercedes, who’s managed players like Luis Robert, Jr., and Yoenis Cespedes.
There’s no doubt he’d be a welcome addition to the Pirates, whether he’s a starter or reliever. His deep arsenal and ability to mix velocity and spin rate could burn opposing teams late in games, which could help late in the season if the Pirates are in a competitive spot.
Keep in mind, though, this is wishful thinking. The Pirates were among 15 teams at Rodriguez’s tryout and, unless they’re willing to spend, they’ll be outbid quickly.
Plus, they “met” with Yoshinobu Yamamoto last month, but it’s unlikely anything will happen with him.
But one could dream, I suppose.