Dodgers close to signing slick-fielding Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena

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Continuing their focus on using their spending advantages to acquire talent internationally the Dodgers are close to signing Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.

Arruebarruena defected from Cuba in November and held workouts for MLB teams in December. He’s considered an elite defensive shortstop, but there are lots of questions about how his hitting will translate to the majors.

Because he’s 24 years old the spending won’t count against the international limits, giving the Dodgers a way to spend all that cash they have sitting around. Earlier this offseason the Dodgers signed another Cuban middle infielder, Alexander Guerrero, for $28 million, and in 2012 they dropped $42 million on Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.