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Dodgers reach preliminary deal with Cuban shortstop

Agreement with Arruebarruena still pending physical, legal and immigration issues

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers have reached a preliminary contract agreement with Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena on Wednesday, according to a baseball source.

The club has not confirmed the signing.

Sources said there still are physical exams and possible legal and immigration issues to resolve.

Arruebarruena is the latest of an increasing emphasis by the Dodgers of signing international players in general and Cubans in particular, especially after the stunning success of Yasiel Puig.

The Dodgers also signed Alex Guerrero, whom they penciled in to start at second base this year, although the natural shortstop has struggled in his transition to the other side of the bag.

Arruebarruena is also a natural shortstop who apparently will stay at that position. He is 23 with six seasons of professional experience in Cuba, so he is not bound by international salary restrictions.

Unlike Guerrero, who is considered an offensive middle infielder, Arruebarruena is known for his glove and figures to need Minor League seasoning to bring his bat to Major League caliber.

Arruebarruena, however, does add to organizational depth in the infield, which had been lacking until the drafting and progression of former first-round pick Corey Seager, currently a shortstop in a third baseman's body.

The Dodgers still apparently are interested in giving a contract extension to current shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but with an understanding that he would move permanently to third base when a shortstop replacement is ready.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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