Should the Angels Claim Erisbel Arruebarrena?


The Los Angeles Dodgers designated 24-year-old infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena for assignment on December 31st. The fiery Cuban signed a five-year deal worth $25 million with the Dodgers last February. Every team in the league has the opportunity to claim Arruebarrena, but his massive contract may serve as a deterrent to interested clubs.

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Arruebarrena spent much of last season playing at various levels of the Dodgers minor league system. However, the Dodgers did give him a brief look with the big club. Arruebarrena struggled with the Dodgers, posting a .195 batting average, with no home runs and 4 RBI’s over the course of 41 at bats. However, he did show glimpses of his potential playing for the Dodgers triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque. As a member of the Isotopes, Arruebarrena hit .333, with 1 home run, and 11 RBI’s in 26 games.  Arruebarrena was effective at getting on base, posting an impressive OBP of .400.

The combination of Arruebarrena’s lack of big league production and his hefty contract, swayed Andrew Friedman and company to move in a different direction. However, there are plenty of clubs in search of middle infielders that might take a chance on Arruebarrena. The Halos have been busy adding infielders this offseason, and they might consider placing a claim on the young man.

When the Angels shipped veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick to the cross town Dodgers there was an obvious lack of depth up the middle. Apart from Grant Green, there really was nobody else in the Angels system capable of contributing for the Angels in 2015. Since that time the Halos general manager Jerry Dipoto has been busy picking up middle infielders.

The Angels dealt for Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies immediately after completing the Kendrick trade. The Angels were active in the annual rule 5 draft, picking up second baseman Taylor Featherston. Shortly after, the club claimed Johnny Giavotella off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. This offseason the Angels have consistently shown interest in re-signing veteran second baseman Gordon Beckham. These moves may not have sparked national headlines, but they were sound baseball decisions by Dipoto and his staff.

Green, Rutledge, and Giavotella all have big league experience, and should be viewed as the heavy favorites to be at stationed at second base on Opening Day. While these players may not be sexy picks, they would likely be more than capable of getting the job done. With such an offensively gifted lineup already in place, the Halos do not require elite production out of the second base spot. Defense will likely be the defining factor in this competition.

With vacancies opening up at third base and second base after the 2015 season, the Angels must determine if any of these players figure into the club’s long-term plans. Arruebarrena does have the athleticism to play second base, third base, and shortstop. Arruebarrena has had some trouble with maintaining consistency defensively, but he has shown off his tremedous range and arm strength on numerous occasions at shortstop.

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Arruebarrena is due to earn $4.5 million in 2015, followed by $5.5 million in ’16 and ’17, and $6.5 million in ’18. The $22 million still owed to Arruebarrena may be the biggest issue for the Angels in deciding whether or not to place a claim on the talented Cuban. The Halos have a definite need for infielders, but it is hard to devote so much money to an unproven commodity. Trading Kendrick did free up much-needed funds, but taking on Arruebarrena’s $4.5 million would once again put the Angels right up against the luxury tax threshold.

I think the Angels should pass on Arruebarrena. I do think Arruebarrena could develop into a quality big leaguer, but at this juncture, he does not present the Angels with a significant upgrade over Rutledge, Green, or Giavotella. I think the Halos should continue scouring the market for available infielders, but Arruebarrena is simply too expensive for a club already pushing the envelope financially.

Would you like to see Jerry Dipoto add Erisbel Arruebarrena? Let us know in the comments section below!