Sunday, February 23, 2014

Signing Arruebarrena sends a message

The Dodgers have officially inked Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena to a five-year, $25 million deal on Saturday, with a $7.5 million signing bonus.  He's still in the Dominican Republic working on getting his visa, then is expected to start the season somewhere in the minors.

After that?  It's full speed ahead in LA and into the future.

Ned Colletti made no bones about it - he sees Arruebarrena as the starting shortstop of the future.  The praise for his defense has been high, and he also brings some pop with his bat.  It's acknowledged that his offense does need some work, but they're hoping he can hold his own at the Major League level while providing great defense up the middle.

So, what's the message that is being sent?  It pertains to Hanley Ramirez.  He needs to prove he can stay healthy over the full course of a season in order to get the extension he's looking for, and he needs to be willing to move to third in a year or two.

As great as Ramirez has been since becoming a Dodger towards the end of 2012, he definitely has had his injury issues (thumb, hamstring, back, ribs...).  I can certainly understand his desire to get a huge deal worked out, but from the Dodgers' point of view, that will only happen if he spends more time on the diamond and less in the trainer's room.

Juan Uribe is currently etched in at third for the next two seasons, but that doesn't mean it will stay that way.  Suppose Uribe goes back to his old ways of... well, doing a big pile of nothing.  Then it's not out of the question to see Ramirez slide over to third, while Arruebarrena becomes the everyday shortstop.

If Colletti is serious about promoting Arruebarrena to the big club sometime in 2014, then his signing is also a message to Uribe, so has been benched plenty of times in the past.  Is it possible to see an all international infield of Ramirez, Arreubarrena, Alexander Guerrero, and Adrian Gonzalez starting in the playoffs?  It certainly could be.

On a side note, in order to make this signing official, someone had to be the odd man out on the 40-man roster.  That guy is Justin Sellers, who went from starting shortstop in 2013 to DFA'd a year later.  Ouch.  Unfortunately, it's really not a surprise.  He simply never showed an ability to hit Major League pitching, so it's the right call.

No comments: