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Dodgers sign Cuban Puig to seven-year deal

The Dodgers have been open about their willingness to spend money to make the team better and candid about their desire to strengthen their presence on an international market that they once dominated.

It appears the club has made progress on both fronts in one fell swoop.

The Dodgers on Friday signed Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig, 21, to a seven-year Major League contract. The team did not release details of the deal, but an industry source told earlier this week it would be for $42 million.

"Scouting and signing talent in Latin America is critical, and this signing shows ownership's commitment to re-engage in the region and dedicate ourselves to getting stronger in this area," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "We feel that Yasiel can be an outstanding Major League player for the organization."

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound outfielder played professionally in Cuba for Cienfuegos during the 2010-11 Cuban Series and hit .330 with 17 homers and 47 RBIs, with a .430 on-base percentage in 327 at-bats. In the playoffs following that season, Puig hit .370 in 46 at-bats.

Puig is expected to report to Camelback Ranch in Arizona when he arrives in the United States.

"Yasiel is a fantastic kid with an infectious personality and we think he has the tools to be a frontline player in the Major Leagues," said Dodgers assistant GM of scouting Logan White. "He is very physical and athletic with raw power. ... He can hit it a long way. On top of that, he has a good arm and is an above-average runner. We had a great team of people that worked to get this done and I'm proud of our staff."

Puig (pronounced Pweeg) was declared a free agent Wednesday, not long after establishing temporary residency in Mexico, and was eventually cleared by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

In order to avoid being subject to new CBA guidelines that will limit spending on international prospects to $2.9 million per team without penalty, Puig has to sign, have the contract approved by Major League Baseball and pass a physical before Monday's deadline.

"These types of players, especially with a speed and power combination, are rarely available," Colletti said. "He has a unique skill set and it's a unique opportunity with [the deadline] coming. You had to be aggressive."

The Cubs and White Sox had also expressed interest in Puig.

The deal marks the second big move by the Dodgers' new ownership -- the first was Andre Ethier's $85 million extension earlier this month -- and the first major splash into the Latin American market.

"The signing in our minds is really one snapshot of a much bigger vision and much bigger plan," Colletti said. "We needed to get reinvested in international signings. This represents the first piece of many."

A member of the country's national team, Puig is the latest high-profile Cuban player to sign with a Major League club. Outfielders Yoenis Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the A's in mid-February, and Jorge Soler signed a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs earlier this month. Left-handed pitcher Omar Luis Rodriguez signed a Minor League deal worth $4 million with the Yankees last week, and fellow lefty Gerardo Concepcion signed a five-year, $6 million deal with the Cubs in early February.

Back in January 2010, Aroldis Chapman signed a six-year, $30.25 million deal with the Reds, and infielder Adeiny Hechavarria signed a four-year, $10 million deal with the Blue Jays three months later. Pitcher Yunesky Maya signed a four-year, $8 million deal with the Nationals that July.

Before the start of the 2009 season, Dayan Viciedo signed a four-year, $10 million deal with the White Sox, and shortstop Jose Iglesias signed a four-year, $8.25 million contract with the Red Sox near the end of the season.

In May 2011, the Rangers signed outfielder Leonys Martin to a five-year, $15.5 million deal, which included a $5 million signing bonus.

More Cuban prospects could be on the way. Pitcher Armando Rivero and outfielder Henry Urrutia were also declared free agents this month, and they are seeking deals.

To make room for Puig on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers moved injured infielder Justin Sellers to the 60-day disabled list.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, Leonys Martin, Justin Sellers, Dayan Viciedo