Desired role likely takes Reds out of the running for this coveted free agent pitcher

The Cincinnati Reds are interested in Yariel Rodriguez, but see him as a reliever.

Yariel Rodriguez in the World Baseball Classic
Yariel Rodriguez in the World Baseball Classic / RICHARD A. BROOKS/GettyImages

It was rumored earlier this week that the Cincinnati Reds were still in the mix for free agent pitcher Yariel Rodriguez. The right-hander did not play professionally in 2023, but starred for Team Cuba in the World Baseball Classic.

Rodriguez, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Digital, prefers to sign with a team that will give him the opportunity to start. That same report cites the Reds as one of the teams who see Rodriguez as a reliever, not a starter.

The Toronto Blue Jays are now seen as the favorites to land Rodriguez, but the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates are in the mix as well. The New York Yankees and San Diego Padres are also potential landing spots.

Reds unlikely to sign free agent Yariel Rodriguez

Yariel Rodriguez, who'll turn 27 years old in March, is one of the more coveted free agent pitchers still available. Though Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shōta Imanaga have a more extensive track record than the Cuban right-hander, signing Rodriguez does not require teams to pay a posting fee.

Rodriguez spent 2020-2022 playing for the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball. In those three seasons, Rodriguez was 10-10 with a 3.03 ERA and totaled just over 175 innings of work.

With the Cincinnati Reds in need of a reliable starter, it would seem rather risky to offer up a big contract to a player who's hasn't surpassed 100 innings pitched since 2018, has never set foot on a major league mound, and didn't play professionally in 2023.

While the talent is there, it would seem as though the Reds see Rodriguez as more of a reliever or spot starter. If Rodriguez truly wants the chance to start, it's unlikely that Cincinnati will afford him that opportunity.

After signing Buck Farmer earlier this week, the Cincinnati Reds may be done adding to their bullpen altogether. All signs point to Rodriguez signing elsewhere while Cincinnati continues to explore the free agent and trade markets with an eye toward boosting the team's pitching staff.