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.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.