Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena defects to sign with MLB team


Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena has defected from Cuba with the intention of signing with an MLB team.

Badler calls Arruebarruena a “defensive wizard” and because he’s 23 years old with plenty of experience in Cuba his contract won’t count against teams’ international signing limits. In other words, it’ll be a free-for-all.

Scouts told Badler that Arruebarruena might have trouble hitting higher than .220 in the big leagues, but it sounds like he could be viewed by many teams as a starting-caliber shortstop based on defense alone.

Another Cuban shortstop, Alexander Guerrero, recently signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Dodgers, but he’s likely to play second base in the majors and is viewed as a potential impact hitter.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.