MLB Rumors: Cubs target closer, Braves bad news, Blue Jays ace hurdle

  • Blue Jays don't have a clear path to landing one ace
  • Braves get a dose of cold water poured on their rotation
  • Cubs setting their sights on an All-Star closer

Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs
Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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MLB Rumors: Blue Jays face hurdles to signing Cuban ace Yariel Rodríguez

MLB fans have seen the Toronto Blue Jays connected to one big-name free agent after another this offseason, but they've come up empty on the name-brand targets. That hasn't deterred the organization, however, as they've most recently been connected as a potential sleeper to sign the best starting pitcher still available on the market, Blake Snell.

There might actually be another ace in their sights, though, with Cuban sensation Yariel Rodriguez. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic ($) furthered a December ESPN report that the Blue Jays are considered the favorites to sign Rodriguez and that the belief in the building in Toronto is they are "optimistic" they'll be able to win the bidding.

Rosenthal, however, noted that it might not be perfectly seamless in getting an ace in Tornoto with Rodriguez as there are obvious hurdles. He pitched from 2015-19 in Cuba before landing with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. However, he sat out the 2023 season after starring as a reliever -- he began his career as a starter -- which creates some issues that the insider outlined:

"How would Rodríguez fit with the Jays or another other club? Likely as a depth starter, at least initially. Rodríguez would need to build up his innings after not pitching last season. He might not be ready to make an impact until the second half. His fallback position is a return to the bullpen. In that sense, he is similar to the Braves’ Reynaldo López and Giants’ Hicks, two relievers who will be stretched out as starters with their new clubs."

This report certainly doesn't limit the potential of Rodriguez, which remains immense. Having said that, if they were to sign him when he'll be 27 years old on Opening Day, Blue Jays fans should undoubtedly temper expectations for what he will be immediately as there could be a serious learning curve and working his way back into form.