The Dodgers have a history of signing and developing impact players from Latin America, but their once-impressive methods of acquiring talent faded under the ownership of Frank McCourt. Now they're back at it.
The Dodgers announced today that they have signed 21-year-old outfielder Yasiel Puig to a seven-year Major League contract. The contract, which is worth $42MM, reflects renewed commitment to success in Latin America, GM Ned Colletti says.
"This signing shows ownership’s commitment to re-engage in the region and dedicate ourselves to getting stronger in this area,” Colletti said. “We feel that Puig can be an outstanding Major League player for the organization.”
Puig can void his contract and go to arbitration once he accumulates three years of MLB service, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports (Twitter links). The Dodgers don't appear to have been the high bidder, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. They never saw Puig play in a game, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets.
The Dodgers, now under the ownership of Guggenheim Sports Management, had publicly stated their intention to bid aggressively on the best available Latin American players. Puig, a 6'3" outfielder from Cuba, fits the description. He agrees to terms two days after being granted free agency and four days before baseball's collective bargaining agreement imposes spending restrictions on teams. Starting July 2, teams will work with a $2.9MM annual budget for international prospects.
Agent Jaime Torres represents Puig, who appears to be in line for a record contract. The outfielder has two seasons of experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He’s more polished than Jorge Soler of the Cubs but less seasoned than Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics, according to Sanchez. The Cubs and White Sox both appear to have expressed interest in signing Puig.
Reports on Puig have been modest, Ben Badler of Baseball America reported this week. Teams are working off of limited information, as most scouts haven't seen much of the prospect since last summer.