Astros linked to intriguing international free agent reliever

With the Astros needing to address their bullpen, could they turn to Yariel Rodriguez? The latest reports say so.
World Baseball Classic Quarterfinals: Australia v Cuba
World Baseball Classic Quarterfinals: Australia v Cuba / Kenta Harada/GettyImages

It’s no secret the Houston Astros need to address their bullpen. With Ryne Stanek, Phil Maton, and barring a miraculous reunion, Hector Neris all pitching elsewhere in 2024, the Astros have 180 innings to replace out of their bullpen. 

The loss of Neris is especially painful, as he’s been one of the best leverage arms in the game since coming to Houston. As of yet, the Astros have stuck to their M.O., making marginal upgrades and acquiring reclamation projects like Dylan Coleman

They can afford to do this with Ryan Pressly and Bryan Abreu back, but could Houston potentially land one of the most intriguing free agent relievers on the market?

While the Astros were never going to pursue a Josh Hader type, and with even Jordan Hicks who they’d been linked to likely being too expensive, they may be addressing their final leverage spot with prized international reliever, Yariel Rodriguez. 

Even with news that the Astros are struggling financially as a result of their TV deal, Houston is somewhat surprisingly still linked to the Cuban star.

The 26 year old did not pitch in 2023, but in his eight seasons of foreign play, holds a 3.07 career ERA. He struck out 9.7 batters per 9 in the Nippon Professional Baseball league that developed names like the Japanese superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto that just inked a $325 million deal with the Dodgers.

Rodriguez wouldn't be cheap, with some projections landing between $40-$70 million. This would be a pivot from much of how the Astros have operated in recent years, and would be downright shocking with their aforementioned financial woes.

One would assume with so much dead money locked up in Rafael Montero's mammoth contract, as well as that of Jose Abreu, and even Lance McCullers Jr., the Astros likely don't have the financial resources to compete with the also linked to Rodriguez Yankees. Nonetheless, this is an interesting development to follow.