Dodgers agree to five-year deal with Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena to a $25 million, five-year contract Saturday.
"We think he adds to our major league club at some point this year," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said.
The Dodgers had been negotiating with Arruebarrena for several days. The 23-year-old infielder defected from Cuba last fall, establishing residency in Haiti. He has been working out in the Dominican Republic, according to the Colletti. Colletti said Arruebarrena still has to acquire a work visa.
"We'll get him as soon as we can get him here," Colletti said. "We need to see him on an everyday basis."
Arruebarrena was a teammate of Yasiel Puig's in the Cuban League from 2010-11. He is touted for his defense but Colletti said his offense still needs work. Still, Arruebarrena was starting shortstop for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and batted .375 with four runs and two RBIs in six games.
"Offensively, he's a work in progress," Colletti said. "He's got power. That's the part of his game that probably needs to get better. But his defense is good enough that it was worth signing him. We signed him for the defensive part, knowing that he can play the middle of the diamond at a very high level. And, there's some offensive ability there that we'll try to fine tune."
Arruebarrena joins Puig and Alex Guererro as three Cubans signed by the Dodgers in the past two years. Los Angeles also drafted pitcher Onelki Garcia in 2012. He defected to the United States in 2010.
Puig said he has known Arruebarrena since he was 9 years old and their families are acquainted. He called Arruebarrena a good player.
Hanley Ramirez goes into 2014 as the Dodgers' starting shortstop. Colletti, however, said that Ramirez would be willing to move to third base at some point. Arruebarrena has played third and second base.
"But we see him as a shortstop," Colletti said of Arruebarrena.
The contract includes a $7.5 million signing bonus. His salaries will be $1.5 million this year, $3 million in 2015, $4 million in 2016 and 2017, and $5 million in 2018.