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Erisbel Arruebarrena Rumors
The team-issued, season-long suspension of Dodgers minor league shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena has been reduced to 30 days, reports Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk. Citing Arruebarrena’s attorney, Jay Reisinger, Calcaterra adds that an appeal to the commissioner’s office was filed on behalf of Arruebarrena, and the two sides ultimately reached a settlement.
The 25-year-old Arruebarrena had originally been suspended for the season due to “repeated failures to comply with his contract,” although his exact transgressions were never reported. Because it was a team-issued suspension, however, performance-enhancing drugs can be ruled out, and drugs of abuse can likely be crossed off the list as well.
Arruebarrena signed a five-year, $25MM contract with the Dodgers upon defecting from Cuba. Said at the time to be a brilliant defensive infielder with a questionable bat, Arruebarrena batted .259/.304/.417 across four minor league levels with the Dodgers in 2014 before surfacing at the Major League level. True to the scouting reports, he struggled at the plate in 45 appearances, batting just .195/.244/.220.
Arruebarrena has already reported to the Dodgers’ Spring Training facility in Arizona to resume baseball activities and begin baseball activities. The decision doesn’t seem to dramatically increase the likelihood that Arruebarrena will appear in a Dodgers’ uniform in the near future, as there’s still likely some bad blood between the player and the organization. From a financial standpoint, the reduced suspension carries some ramifications for the Dodgers. Had Arruebarrena spent the entire season serving a suspension, he wouldn’t have earned his $3MM salary. With that reduced to 30 days, Arruebarrena is now “only” out $491K, meaning the Dodgers will still have to pay him a little more than $2.5MM of his salary.
The game is in need of greater minority representation in its most visible non-playing role, that of manager, says Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman lists twenty excellent candidates who ought to receive strong consideration from those clubs that are in need of new dugout leaders after the season.
- It’s no secret, of course, that Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman would draw intense interest on the trade market if they are made available. Writing for FOX Sports, Jeff Sullivan analyzes just how much they could bring back this summer. In spite of his excellence, Cueto might most realistically be expected to bring back a very good prospect rather than a great one, says Sullivan, while Chapman probably has somewhat more value given his nearly-unmatched dominance and extra year of control. As Sullivan notes, the possibility of jointly marketing the two in search of more premium talent in less player seems interesting, though perhaps something of a long shot.
- The Twins have decided to move top-100 pitching prospect Alex Meyer into the Triple-A bullpen, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. It appears that the team is doing so more with the idea of getting him back on track than preparing him for MLB bullpen work — Meyer has struggled mightily, especially with his control — but it would not be surprising to see him appear as a late-inning arm if he can turn things around and Minnesota can stay in the hunt.
- Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, who is set to miss the rest of the year with shoulder surgery, told reporters that he has been pitching with a labrum tear at least since he signed with the club, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group tweets. Ryu says that his MRI back in 2013 revealed the slight tear, which has not worsened — but is apparently now a much greater problem — since that time.
- Meanwhile, the Dodgers will not attempt to void the contract of infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets. While the club felt justified in suspending Arruebarrena for the entire rest of the year for disciplinary reasons, Saxon says that the still-unreported transgressions were not considered significant enough to warrant yet more drastic action.
5:23pm: The Dodgers say that Arruebarrena has been suspended for the season due to “repeated failures to comply with his contract,” per J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. News Group (Twitter link).
3:47pm: The Dodgers have indefinitely suspended Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, reports Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman confirmed to Plunkett that the 25-year-old Arruebarrena is suspended but declined to give further detail, referring to the situation as an “internal matter.” As Plunkett points out, that would suggest that Arruebarrena has not done something that would warrant a league-mandated suspension (e.g. PED usage, drug of abuse).
Arruebarrena won’t collect any of his guaranteed salary while he is on the restricted list. The defensive-minded shortstop signed a five-year, $25MM contract with the Dodgers in February 2014 that contained a $7.5MM signing bonus and called for annual salaries of $1.5MM (2014), $3MM (2015), $4MM (2016-17) and $5MM (2018). The Dodgers’ new front office — headed by Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and senior vice president Josh Byrnes — clearly was never as enamored with Arruebarrena as the preceding group; Arruebarrena was designated for assignment this offseason and outrighted off the 40-man roster after clearing waivers.
Arruebarrena received a cup of coffee with the Dodgers last year, hitting .195/.244/.220 in just 45 plate appearances at the big league level. His minor league work was more impressive, with his best work coming in 95 PAs at the Triple-A level. Overall, in 272 minor league PAs, Arruebarrena slashed .259/.304/.417 with six homers and a pair of stolen bases. As Plunkett reminds, however, he was also seen as the catalyst in a brawl between the Triple-A affiliates for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, and his role in that tussle netted him a five-game suspension from the Pacific Coast League.
Friedman declined to indicate exactly how long Arruebarrena would be suspended, but he’s yet to play a single game for the Dodgers at any level in 2015.
Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi recently spoke with reporters about the club’s plans. Here’s the latest out of Chavez Ravine:
- Zaidi says the club has no plan to add more starting pitching prior to the season, tweets Ken Gurrick of MLB.com. The club is comfortable turning to Joe Wieland and Mike Bolsinger as depth, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Any additions will also be depth pieces (Twitter link). If true, this seemingly eliminates the Dodgers as a destination for Max Scherzer, James Shields, and Cole Hamels.
- The Dodgers have discussed recently designated shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena with clubs before today, tweets Shaikin. Zaidi says Arruebarrena has come up in talks with three to five clubs (via Twitter). The additions of Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, and Enrique Hernandez made Arruebarrena expendable. My own two cents: the Phillies have a gaping hole at shortstop, but I assume Arruebarrena came up during the Rollins trade talks. That could mean Philadelphia isn’t interested in the Cuban.
- Also per Zaidi, the Dodgers aren’t pursuing any free agent relievers. Any addition would come via trade, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (Twitter).
The Dodgers only signed Arruebarrena early this year, and he still has four years and $16MM on his contract. Clearly, the Dodgers’ new front office does not think as highly of Arruebarrena as the old one did, although it’s likely he’ll wind up back with the Dodgers organization anyway, as he’s a good bet to clear waivers. A trade is also a possibility. The 24-year-old Cuban defector hit .259/.304/.417 in 272 plate appearances split between four minor-league levels this season, notably playing a key role in an ugly brawl with Triple-A Albuquerque. He also struggled through 45 plate appearances in the big leagues, hitting .195/.244/.220. Arruebarrena does, however, have a strong defensive reputation.
Before dealing Matt Kemp to one division rival, they were in deep talks with another about a deal, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The Diamondbacks rejected L.A.’s request for center fielder A.J. Pollock but was willing to ship top pitching prospect Archie Bradley to add Kemp. Of course, we do not know the details of those discussions, including especially the amount of Kemp’s salary that would have been covered.
Here’s the latest from the National League West:
- The Padres are unlikely as things stand to reach agreement with Kwang-hyun Kim before today’s deadline, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. With a 2pm PST expiration, we could learn more on that situation soon.
- The Giants intend to add a starter sooner rather than later and do not intend to participate in a drawn-out bidding process, AGM Bobby Evans told reporters including John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).
- In addition to checking in with Asdrubal Cabrera, the Giants have inquired with Jed Lowrie about his interest in spending time at second or third, also per Evans. (Via Shea, on Twitter.) Lowrie apparently indicated that would be a possibility. The team could theoretically add a player at second and move Joe Panik to third, Evans also told the scribes, per MLB.com’s Chris Haft (via Twitter).
- The Dodgers will be open to moving shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena after the Jimmy Rollins deal is finalized, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The 24-year-old is owed $16MM over the next four years.
FEB. 22: The deal is now official, the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez tweets.
FEB. 21, 6:51pm: Arrubarrena gets a five year deal for $25MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, including a $7.5MM signing bonus.
3:53pm: The deal is for five years, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
FEB. 20: MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports that Arruebarrena's deal is believed to be five or six years in length. According to Sanchez, Arruebarrena is working out in the Dominican Republic as he awaits his work Visa. Without the Visa, the contract cannot be finalized, which is why the Dodgers have yet to make an official announcement. GM Ned Colletti did tell Sanchez the following:
"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."
FEB. 12, 3:20pm: Arruebarrena's contract could be worth around $25MM, a source tells Rojas (Spanish language link).
12:27pm: The Dodgers have agreed to terms with Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick (Twitter link). Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported earlier today that the two sides were nearing an agreement, and Arruebarrena was traveling to the United States to take a physical.
The 23-year-old Arruebarrena has six seasons of professional experience in Cuba's Serie Nacional and therefore is not subject to the spending restrictions placed on international amateurs. Arruebarrena is considered an elite defensive shortstop, but most scouts have serious questions about his bat. Though Arruebarrena batted .320/.367/.520 in 306 plate appearances in Cuba from 2011-12, Ben Badler of Baseball America spoke with multiple scouts at the time of his defection and noted that many questioned whether Arruebarrena could manage a .220 average or .300 OBP in the Majors. He's also not a particularly fast player, further limiting his offensive upside. Given all of that info, it's not difficult to see why Arruebarrena has drawn comparisons to fellow Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Arruebarrena adds to the Dodgers' infield depth, but it's unlikely that he'll be ready to make an immediate impact in the Major Leagues. Badler noted that some minor league time was almost a certainty for Arruebarrena, adding that he could even have to start at the Double-A level due to his questionable offensive skills. Arruebarrena can serve as an insurance policy in the event that the team is unable to reach an extension with Hanley Ramirez. He could also provide an elite in-house option at short (defensively speaking, that is) should Ramirez sign an extension but eventually need to move to third base. Arruebarrena joins Yasiel Puig and Alexander Guerrero as the third notable Cuban signing for the Dodgers in the past two years.
Even though most of Alex Rodriguez's 2014 salary will be wiped out by his season-long PED suspension, the controversial slugger's contract is still ranked as the worst in baseball by Grantland's Jonah Keri. Of Keri's list of the 15 worst contracts in the sport, the Dodgers have four, the Yankees, Angels and Braves each have two and the Reds, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays and White Sox have one each.
Here are some items from around the baseball world…
- The Reds and Homer Bailey are "still talking" about a multiyear contract, GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "There has not been a lot of progress, but good conversations anyhow," Jocketty said. Bailey's arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 20 and there is a $2.9MM gap ($11.6MM to $8.7MM) between his demands and the Reds' offer for a 2014 contract. This is Bailey's last season under contract with Cincinnati and the two sides are reportedly far apart on a long-term deal. Sheldon suggests that the Reds will be watching the Indians' case with Justin Masterson, as he and Bailey have posted comparable numbers over the last three years and Masterson is also scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.
- The Pirates offered A.J. Burnett a $12MM contract for 2014, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). This obviously fell short of the $16MM Burnett received from the Phillies earlier today.
- The Twins aren't one of the teams interested in Emilio Bonifacio, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter). Bonifacio cleared release waivers and became a free agent earlier today. The Orioles are known to be one of at least nine teams interested in the speedy utilityman.
- Also from Wolfson, a Twins official said that the club "had extensive talks" about Erisbel Arruebarruena but he was judged to be too expensive. The Cuban shortstop agreed to a deal with the Dodgers today that could be worth as much as $25MM.
- The Cubs can afford to be patient in trading Jeff Samardzija, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan argues, as teams may be more willing to meet Chicago's large asking price once the free agent pitching market thins out and teams get more desperate once the season begins.
- Right-hander Josh Roenicke is drawing interest from a "handful of teams" and could be signed soon, a source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Roenicke posted a 4.35 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.25 K/BB rate in 62 relief innings with the Twins in 2013 before being outrighted off Minnesota's roster in November.
- Also from Cotillo, right-hander Blake Hawksworth has retired. Hawksworth posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.85 K/BB over 124 games (eight as a starter) with the Cardinals and Dodgers from 2009-11 before elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career. Hawksworth has taken a job with the Boras Corporation, his former agency.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed the club's recent signing of Carlos Marmol with Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- Luis Ayala chose to sign a minor league deal with the Nationals since they (as the Expos) were the franchise that originally signed him and he still has many friends in the organization, the veteran reliever tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Several teams were linked to Ayala this offseason but the bidding came down to the Nats, Tigers and Phillies.
Full Story | 15 Comments | Categories: A.J. Burnett | Carlos Marmol | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | Detroit Tigers | Emilio Bonifacio | Erisbel Arruebarrena | Homer Bailey | Jeff Samardzija | Josh Roenicke | Luis Ayala | Miami Marlins | Minnesota Twins | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Retirement | Washington Nationals
The Dodgers are nearing an agreement with Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (Spanish link). Arruebarruena, who defected from Cuba last year and established residence in Haiti, is traveling to the United States to take a physical, according to Rojas' source.
The 23-year-old Arruebarruena has six seasons of professional experience in Cuba's Serie Nacional and therefore is not subject to the spending restrictions placed on international amateurs. He is free to sign with any club for any amount.
Arruebarruena is considered an elite defensive shortstop, but most scouts have serious questions about his bat. Though Arruebarruena batted .320/.367/.520 in 306 plate appearances in Cuba from 2011-12, Ben Badler of Baseball America spoke with multiple scouts at the time of his defection and noted that many questioned whether Arruebarruena could manage a .220 average or .300 OBP in the Majors. He's also not a particularly fast player, further limiting his offensive upside. Given all of that info, it's not difficult to see why Arruebarruena has drawn comparisons to fellow Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias.
This would mark the third significant Cuban signing for the Dodgers in the past two years, as the team has also inked Yasiel Puig and Alexander Guerrero. The Dodgers appear set in the infield with Juan Uribe, Hanley Ramirez, Guerrero (or Chone Figgins, Dee Gordon or Miguel Rojas) and Adrian Gonzalez. However, a deal for Arruebarruena would likely be made with an eye on the long-term. Badler noted in his write-up that the defensive wizard would almost certainly require some minor league seasoning to hone his offensive skills, possibly having to begin at the Double-A level.
As we wind up one of the busiest weeks in the history of baseball transactions, here are a few more notes as we head into the weekend…
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is happy to have acquired Dexter Fowler and Scott Feldman before the Winter Meetings, but Luhnow tells reporters (including Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) that his club has more on its to-do list. “To have them both done before the Winter Meetings is a bonus," Luhnow said. "So now that we can focus on the bullpen and focus on potentially another position player somewhere….We may not be done with starting pitching either. We’re still actively talking to some other folks.”
- With the Phillies reportedly shopping closer Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News feels the team will have a tough time given Papelbon's large salary, signs of decline and his possible attitude issues.
- J.A. Happ could be a trade chip for the Blue Jays if the team needed to free up some payroll space, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith writes. Happ is set to earn $5.2MM in 2014 with a $6.7MM team option for 2015. The southpaw was limited to 18 starts in 2013 due to head injuries suffered when he was hit in the head with a line drive, as well as a knee injury also stemming from the incident.
- Also from Nicholson-Smith, nothing is imminent with Yuniesky Betancourt, though a number of teams are still interested in the veteran as infield depth. The Marlins were linked to Betancourt last month.
- Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena has a good glove at shortstop, is lacking at the plate and is overall not going to provide the impact of recent Cuban signings, a scout tells MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. "This isn’t like watching Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes. You’re not going to hear from 15 teams. You’ll hear from teams that are hurting a little bit at shortstop," the scout said. Arruebarruena will showcase his skills for teams this weekend, and the Mets have been identified as one of the attending clubs.