The Los Angeles Dodgers officially announced the signing of Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena to a five-year, $25 million contract Saturday morning. Arruebarrena, 23, defected from Cuba and has been living in Haiti while trying to obtain a work visa to join the Dodgers in spring training.
At a town hall at Dodger Stadium close to two weeks ago, Dodgers president Stan Kasten said the team was going to add a new player, but wouldn’t name names. Arruebarrena is the third high profile player the Dodgers have signed out of Cuba in the last three years and it’s unknown where he’ll begin his Dodger career.
To make room for him on the roster, the Dodgers designated infielder Justin Sellers for assignment. He was in the mix for a possible backup infield spot after being the Opening Day shortstop last season due to Hanley Ramirez’s thumb injury.
Here’s the full release from the Dodgers:
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the signing of free agent Cuban infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena to a five-year contract.
“Signing Arruebarrena gives us another very good middle infielder, who is an outstanding defender,” said Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti. “It continues our efforts internationally to add talent that can positively affect the Major League club – be it immediately or in the very near future.”
Arruebarrena, 23, posted a .276 batting average with 67 doubles, 25 triples, 27 homers and 171 RBI in 437 career games in six seasons for Cienfuegos in the Cuban Serie Nacional from 2007-2013. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder, who is known for his defense, has appeared primarily at shortstop during his career, but has also played second base and third base professionally. With Cienfuegos during the 2012-13 season, Arruebarrena hit .293 with a .366 on-base percentage, six home runs and 32 RBI in 70 regular-season games before going 6-for-14 (.429) in six postseason contests.
“We are excited to sign Erisbel, who we’ve scouted in international competition for a long time.” said Dodger Vice President, International Scouting Bob Engle. “He brings another superb glove to our organization.”
The Cienfuegos, Cuba native was the starting shortstop for his home country in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, batting .375 with a .444 on-base percentage, four runs scored and two RBI in six games in the tournament. He also played internationally for Cuba in the 2011 Pan American Games and batted .445 (8-for-18) with three runs scored, a double and an RBI in five games.
Arruebarrena (pronounced Arr-ru-eh-BAHR-ena) was a teammate of Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig with Cienfuegos in 2010-11.
To create room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated infielder Justin Sellers for assignment.