Supplied photo shows Yariel Rodriguez. (Kyodo)

The Central League's Chunichi Dragons confirmed Wednesday that they have been unable to contact Cuban reliever Yariel Rodriguez amid reports he has defected and is currently in the Dominican Republic.

The 26-year-old Rodriguez was expected to arrive in Japan on Wednesday after contributing to Cuba's semifinal finish in the World Baseball Classic. Rodriguez tied for the CL lead last year in "hold points," the total of holds and relief wins, with 45.

Hiroyuki Kato, the Dragons' official representative to Nippon Professional Baseball said the team had not been in touch with Rodriguez for the past week.

"There's been no word from him," Kato told reporters at Vantelin Dome Nagoya. "We confirmed the situation with the Cuban baseball federation but they couldn't tell us anything definite."

Cuban authorities in December reportedly extended Rodriguez's contract with the Dragons through the 2024 season.