First the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig, the Cuban outfielder that took baseball by storm in 2013. Then they gambled on another Cuban, the second baseman Alexander Guerrero. Now the Dodgers have invested $25 million into another Cuban infielder, Erisbel Arruebarrena.
Arruebarrena, a Cuban defector who fled to Haiti last year, signed a deal last week to become a Dodger for the next five seasons. He would be joining the team for Spring Training this week, but his travel Visa is not active yet.
Aside from having a mouthful of a name, Arruebarrena is reported to bring quite the glove to the states. Scouts say that he has a slick glove and strong arm, and should be a plus-defender.
His bat on the other hand is not very potent. He did put up a career .276 in the Cuban League, but scouts and analysts have projected a .220 batting average and .300 on-base percentage.
Until we see him in the states, playing against MLB talents, it is impossible to evaluate his talents. Just like with Puig last year and Alexander Guerrero in 2014, Arruebareena is a huge question mark, but the Dodgers are willing to take the gamble.
He will likely start in the minors where the Dodgers can monitor his progress and get him adjusted to baseball in the states. With the shape of the Dodger infield, it is possible he could find himself as a back-up infielder for the first two years of his career regardless of how talented he proves to be.
Among the three Cubans that the Dodgers have signed since June 2012, they have committed more than $90 million over the next six years.
One last point of interest in the Arrueberrena story is that he and Puig are childhood friends. They have known each other since they were 9-years old and played together in Cuban growing up.
So for Arruebarrena this is a waiting game. First the wait for his Visa to allow him to travel to America, and then the wait to see if he can become a valuable piece to the Dodgers organization.