The Dodgers Opening Day starting shortstop last year, Justin Sellers, was designated for assignment on Saturday. Sellers, whose slick fielding kept him in the mix for parts of three seasons with the Dodgers, could be claimed off waivers or he may just end up back in the minor league side of camp if he goes unclaimed. The Dodgers had to open up a spot for their potential defensive shortstop star Erisbel Arruebarrena. Unfortunately Sellers was the odd man out, but it doesn’t mean his Dodger career is over just yet. Remember Scott Van Slyke was designated for assignment last year when the Dodgers signed Skip Schumaker, but Van Slyke ended back on the Dodgers bench for 53 games last year.
Arruebarrena garnered a substantial five-year $25 million deal with the Dodgers. This lucrative contract signals to me that the Dodgers see Erisbel as the future shortstop. We all know that Dee Gordon is being rebranded, and the Dodgers have all but given up on Gordon at shortstop. Justin Sellers is not in the equation anymore, and Hanley Ramirez will most likely move over to third base in a couple of years.
Corey Seager is still playing shortstop, and I have said before that I would play Corey at his natural position as long as he’s successful regardless of his build. Having power and production from your shortstop just helps create a more potent lineup. I just don’t think Corey Seager is ready just yet, and the Dodgers needed to add a defensively sharp shortstop in order to create depth and protection for that position in the organization. Arruebarrena will need to work on being adequate with the bat at the Major League level, but his defense is already golden according to scouting reports which is reflected in the large contract he was given by the Dodgers.
Rafael Furcal and Cesar Izturis have been two of my favorite Dodger shortstops from recent years. Both players were very impressive out of the shortstop position, and their range and quick handedness made for some exciting plays and double plays. While Furcal was the better hitter, Izturis was one of the best defensive shortstops I have watched play for the Dodgers when he was in his prime. With this Arruebarrena signing I feel as though the Dodgers are trying to go to a defensive centric shortstop choice for the future. While I think Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe have shortstop and third base handled for the next two seasons, we all know that unexpected injuries can muddle the infield in a hurry. By having someone like Arruebarrena at your disposal, you can be sure that the middle infield defense will be solid.
I can see Arruebarrena making his Dodger debut sometime this season. It is unclear how many games Hanley Ramirez will actually play in,
so I expect the Dodgers to give some time to Arruebarrena at some point. Erisbel can actually play shortstop, second base, and third base.
“Signing Arruebarrena gives us another very good middle infielder, who is an outstanding defender,” said Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti. “It continues our efforts internationally to add talent that can positively affect the Major League club – be it immediately or in the very near future.”
Erisbel is a veteran player (at age 23) after playing in six seasons (2007-2013) for the Cienfuegos in the Cuban Seri Nacional.
“We are excited to sign Erisbel, who we’ve scouted in international competition for a long time.” said Dodger Vice President, International Scouting Bob Engle. “He brings another superb glove to our organization.”
Erisbel has played with Yasiel Puig, and the former teammates will be reunited in the United States and probably share the field as Dodgers soon.