Big day for shortstop news in major league baseball, what with Derek Jeter announcing this will be his last season and the Dodgers apparently providing the answer to team president Stan Kasten’s “mystery player” by agreeing to terms Wednesday with a big name -- or at least a really long one.
Erisbel Arruebarruena, reportedly a slick-fielding, light-hitting shortstop, has reach a contract agreement with the Dodgers, two sources told The Times’ Dylan Hernandez. He still has to pass a physical, and there could yet be some immigration issues to be resolved. The Dodgers have not formally announced the deal.
But otherwise the Dodgers’ Cuban pipeline continues to flow. The Dodgers already have two projected Cuban starters in their lineup in outfielder Yasiel Puig and second baseman Alex Guerrero.
Arruebarruena certainly doesn’t figure to start and at best has an immediate future as a backup infielder, one of the Dodgers’ few real needs. More likely, he’ll start the season in the minors to get used to American baseball while the Dodgers see if they can make do with Chone Figgins, Dee Gordon, Justin Turner or Brandan Harris.
Kasten had told season-ticket holders Monday that the Dodgers soon would be adding a mystery player.
Arruebarruena, who turns 24 next month, spent six seasons playing in Cuba so he’s not subject to the international spending cap. He reportedly defected in November and established residency in Haiti.
He bats right-handed and played with Puig for Cienfuegos. In 2012-2013 he hit .293 with a .366 on-base percentage and a .422 slugging percentage. He sounds similar to Miguel Rojas, a non-roster invitee best known for his glove.
That hardly translates into someone ready to make an offensive mark in the majors. But on a team seemingly loaded with offense, later in the season the Dodgers could find him a useful fill-in.
For an organization whose major shortstop prospect, Corey Seager, spent last season at Class A and could be moved to third, Arruebarruena at least adds needed organizational depth.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times