Over the years, the Yankees have used various strategies to capitalize on the international free agent market. After changes to the rules in 2017, they spread the wealth around, passing on the very top prospect in the class in order to sign six of the top-30 ranked on the market. A few years later they changed course and went all-in on Jasson Dominguez, essentially spending their entire starting bonus allotment for one of the most hyped international free agents ever. This coming January the team is once again using a version of the all-in approach, as they are reported to have the inside track on signing Roderick Arias, one of the very best players in the coming class.
In recent years, the Yankees have targeted talented up the middle positions on the international market. Everson Pereira, Alexander Vargas, Antonio Gomez Jasson Dominguez and a few other have all entered the system as highly-rated IFAs. Shortstop Roderick Arias is joining that group and the expectations will match or exceed all of those players except Dominguez. The switch-hitting shortstop is listed as 6-foot-1, 180 pounds with above average tools across the board. MLB.com lists him as the number one international free agent available this offseason and Baseball America has him ranked number two on their board.
Arias is reported to have elite bat-to-ball skills that set him apart from his peers as he rarely swings and misses. In recent years, the Yankees have targeted this type of player when they drafted Anthony Volpe, Austin Wells, Josh Smith and Trey Sweeney with their higher draft picks. It is a hitting profile that is working out well for the organization.
Arias is a switch hitter which also sticks with another organizational trend, as they have used their top international bonus on switch-hitters like Vargas and Dominguez in recent years.
16 year-old Roderick Arias is the No. 1 international prospect for the upcoming signing period beginning in January 2022— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) August 26, 2021
Yankees are the favorite to sign the 6'1" switch-hitting shortstop, according to MLB Pipeline pic.twitter.com/kCXWKkTWB9
Defensively, Arias is reported to have above-average range and a strong throwing arm. Many international players sign as shortstops but then quickly move off of the position as their bodies fill out and the athletic demands grow for the position. Arias is projected to be the type of athlete who can stay at the position and play it well moving forward.
Arias is not as highly regarded at this point as Jasson Dominguez was leading up to his signing with the team. The panel on the MLB Pipeline podcast recently discussed Arias and does not expect him to jump right into any of the public top-100 prospects list before he has played a game. That is rarified air that is not often achieved by even the most talented 16-year-old players. Arias will almost certainly be a top-15 Yankees’ prospect that could crack into the tier right behind the Yankees’ current top-100 prospects, a tier that includes Anthony, Dominguez, Oswald Peraza and Luis Gil. That speaks to the talent that scouts see in Arias.
He will join a position group within the Yankees system that is deep and currently is occupied by four of the Yankees top-15 prospects in Volpe, Peraza, Sweeney and Vargas. These players are currently stretched across the system from Double-A to the Florida Complex League, and Arias is a prime candidate to fit right in behind them when play kicks off next summer.
The Yankees are expected to commit the majority of their international free agent bonus pool to one player in 2022. The strategy has worked for teams in the past, and Roderick Arias is expected to be a talented prospect with a very high ceiling who will immediately bolster the Yankees’ farm system.