This is apparently not how you spell this. (via) This is apparently not how you spell this. (via)

Erisbel Arruebarruena Getting Closer to Signing For A Reported $25 Million

Imagine that on the back of a Dodger jersey. (via)

Imagine that on the back of a Dodger jersey. (via)

Since word came out earlier this month that the Dodgers were close to signing Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena — and I’m happy to say that this site was the first one to have a full post on it, so thanks, Dustin — we’ve been hearing a bit more about how scouts view him, and now we know a bit more about what the financial outlay will be.

First, some scouts:

Ben Badler, Baseball America:

Arruebarruena, 23, was the shortstop on the Cuban national team and earned rave reviews from scouts for his defense, though there are serious reservations about whether he will hit enough to be an everyday player. At 6 feet, 195 pounds, Arruebarruena is smooth hands, clean actions and terrific defensive instincts, with good range despite being a below-average runner. He has a 70 arm on the 20-80 scale, gets rid of the ball quickly and makes accurate throws from anywhere on the field, leading some scouts to project him as a potential Gold Glove winner.

At the same time, Arruebarruena might never hit higher than eighth in a National League lineup. His righthanded swing is long, he swings through pitches in the strike zone and is prone to chasing pitches off the plate with a pull approach, limited pitch recognition and isn’t a major power threat. Last summer in the United States against the U.S. college national team, his final time playing outside of Cuba before defecting, Arruebarruena went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts and was often removed late in the game for offensive reasons.

Keith Law:

Craig (PA)
Arruebarruena: Great glove, horrid bat, long name. Anything else to add?

Klaw
That’s about right. I haven’t talked to anyone who feels like he’ll hit.

Scouts aren’t always right — I will never forget the quote from Buster Olney that one team saw Yasiel Puig as a “$500,000 player” — but this all jibes with what we already knew about him. His glove is outstanding, his bat not so much. The question, apparently, is whether his glove can carry the lack of offense, a question the Miami Marlins are currently dealing with, considering that their own young Cuban shortstop, Adeiny Hechavarria, has just a .232/.269/.311 line in 715 major league plate appearances.

Today, thanks to Jesse Sanchez, we’re learning a bit more about when the deal will be official and what it may cost when it does:

According to industry sources, the 23-year old has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and was cleared by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to enter into a contract with a Major League club after he established residency in Haiti.

The infielder is currently working out in the Dominican Republic and is waiting on a P-1 work Visa before he can finalize what is expected to be a five or six-year deal worth $25 million with Los Angeles. The Dodgers, who also signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million contract this winter, have not confirmed the Arruebarruena signing.

It now sounds like only a matter of time before the paperwork is finished, and we should hopefully see Arruebarruena in camp soon. But what about the cost for a player who most don’t think can even be an average hitter?

Hechavarria signed for four years and $10 million with Toronto back in 2010, and Iglesias for four years in $8.25 million with Boston in late 2009. Since there’s been some annual inflation in the years since, it makes sense that Arruebarruena would get more than that, though if that number is accurate, it’s not just a little more, it’s considerably more.

If you’re asking me to defend that kind of outlay based on what we know, I suppose I can’t. It seems unreasonable, but then I guess the truth is that we don’t really know the true story. We don’t know what other clubs were in on the bidding, and we can only assume that the Dodgers have higher regard for his offensive skills than everyone else does. I suppose at this point they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt, but still, it’s surprising.

Then again, while “$25 million” sounds like a lot, it’s important to remember that this is spread over five (or six years). The Dodgers are essentially paying him to be worth one win a year. Reportedly, his glove is excellent enough to make that happen, and an elite glove combined with a below-average bat is still a valuable player at shortstop — as long as the bat really is “below-average” and not “atrociously unplayable.” Either way, the deal won’t prevent the Dodgers from doing anything else, of course, and it doesn’t count against any international cap, so even if it sound like a lot, we should be thrilled to be following a team that can do things like this.

I imagine this means the Dodgers are probably not in on shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who is still searching for a fit, though at this point with this Scrooge McDuck team, I wouldn’t rule anything out. Maybe they sign him just to have a spare Cuban shortstop stashed away in a penthouse somewhere. Maybe that’s what Arruabarruena is for.

Either way, he’s apparently going to be in the organization soon enough, and my guess is that he starts in the minors, likely at wherever Corey Seager doesn’t between Rancho Cucamonga and Chattanooga. Most likely that means Double-A, since I don’t think Seager gets pushed there to start the season, or maybe even Triple-A Albuquerque.

More to come, no doubt.


Mike

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Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.


702 comments
hillbillygreg
hillbillygreg

Keith Law and Ben Bader are not baseball scouts, they are number cruncher s. I remember Law who was in glendale last year saying puigs speed was "ok"  lol,lol right 

 Kyle
Kyle

Jesus Montero is frustrating because millions of people would kill to be in the situation he's in. And he doesn't appear to give a shit.

ABMoseSchrute
ABMoseSchrute

@Sir Catfishin, Esq. maybe he has a medical condition? Without the extra growth hormone (or whatever he was getting from biogenesis) he's clearly not staying slim.

Hoze
Hoze

@I Digesti  he's rated negatively on his defense on Fangraphs 

Hoze
Hoze

Well... he'd have to accept a minor league contract... he may get something better, or look to sign with a club with a less valuable rotation 

Hoze
Hoze

No risk... some reward?

Hoze
Hoze

@TooManyEllipses @Hoze  He's been throwing well over the last 3 years (ave over 3 WAR per season of fangraphs). Same thing cant be said about Santana

Hoze
Hoze

Ned Coletti's told Jesse Sanchez the following on Arruebarruena: 
"We signed Alexander [Guerrero] and we’re trying to sign another player because it’s tough in the Draft to find those players. You are pretty limited in the Draft as far as good hitters that can play in the middle of the infield. The way we look at it, we have the need for it in our organization and we’ve gone after them the way we have."

Vin_Skully
Vin_Skully

The Dodgers must think they can shorten his swing and make him a hitter or they would just wait for Diaz. I would feel better if he had speed... Like Dee with +defense kind of speed, but it is not my money so f-it.

TellMyWifeISaidHello
TellMyWifeISaidHello

@Vin_Skully They probably really really love his defense. If he can hit just a little defense, especially at SS can make him a 2 win player

Lobo
Lobo

@Vin_Skully His defense alone is going to be plenty valuable.  I don't think he's as good as Andrelton Simmon defensively, but his glove is supposed to be elite and SS is a position where and elite glove can provide a lot of value

steelmohawk
steelmohawk

again Matt Kemp is not on the same page as his teammates.

Ker$haw$Dodger$
Ker$haw$Dodger$

Can't wait to see Arruebarruena make an awesome stop as SS during the ninth inning after H Ramirez hit's GO AHEAD HR in bottom of 8th