Stan Kasten mentioned earlier this week that there would be another player added to the Spring Training camp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, though he declined to specifically name the player. According to a report by Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, it appears that player is Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena. The Dodgers have been linked to almost every available Cuban defector since they signed Yasiel Puig, so it should be no surprise that they have added Arruebarruena.
While his offensive skills appear to be up for debate, Arruebarruena is considered to be an elite defender at the shortstop position. Given the issues surrounding the Dodgers' lack of infield depth, the signing provides a much-needed defensive option. It also protects the Dodgers if Juan Uribe regresses from his 2013 breakout campaign. If Uribe is ineffective, it is possible the Dodgers ask Hanley Ramirez to move to third and allow Arruebarruena to man Ramirez' vacated postion. It is also possible that Arruebarruena requires additional seasoning in the minors before making his debut.
This is all dependent, of course, on Arruebarruena's shortcomings with the bat. He was able to manage a slash line of .320/.367/.520 in his time in Cuba's top professional league, but according to Ben Badler of Baseball America, many scouts are unsure if he will even be able to manage a .220 average or .300 on-base percentage in the majors.
While some scouts may not be high on Arruebarruena's bat, the Dodgers have had a great deal of success with international signings since Guggenheim took over. Many scouts were so down on Puig, they referred to his contract with the Dodgers as "laughable" at the time. That contract now looks like an incredible bargain. Kasten's excitement may indicate that the Dodgers know something about Arruebarruena that others do not.
If nothing else, the signing provides the Dodgers with additional minor league infield depth or another option for a late-inning defensive replacement. If he is capable with the bat, then he may end up being a solid choice at shortstop in the long term.
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