The Los Angeles Dodgers formally announced the signing of Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena this morning. At the moment, the 23-year-old shortstop is awaiting a visa in the Dominican Republic after defecting to Haiti from Cuba in November.
Arruebarrena played for Cienfuegos in Cuba and was a teammate of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. The two met when they were nine years old and talking to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, Puig is excited about his friend joining the organization:
Now that he’s here, he can train here and work with these coaches, Puig said. They’ll be able to help him. He’ll do well.
Puig talked about how the Dodgers will get an elite glove up the middle, but just as scouts around baseball have been saying, Arruebarrena’s offensive game needs work. In six seasons in Cuba, Arruebarrena hit .276 with 27 homers, 171 RBI, 67 doubles, 25 triples in 437 career games. He also played for the Cuban team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, hitting .375 with a .444 OBP, four runs scored and two RBI in six games.
His signing creates speculation that incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez is bound for third base, which is something he and the Dodgers are talking about while they try to reach an extension. The 29-year-old Ramirez appears to be onboard with the move, but doesn’t want to move between the two positions. Along with Ramirez, the Dodgers have Juan Uribe under contract for two more seasons and top prospect Corey Seager making his way through the minor league system.
It isn’t known where Arruebarrena will begin his big league career and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he has a chance to make an impact “immediately or in the very near future”. His addition marks the third high profile Cuban player the Dodgers have signed and it’ll be exciting to track Arruebarrena’s progress this season.
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