Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig ultimately is getting to work with the L.A Dodgers.
Two weeks after signing a record 7-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers, the 21-year-old slugger worked out at Los Angeles’ spring training complex at Camelback Ranch. Puig defected from Cuba in early June after 1 or 2 failed attempts.
He’s excited the ordeal is over and that it’s time to play baseball. Las Vegas odds
“I never doubted that I would get the chance,” Puig said thru an interpreter. “The surprise was it’s with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It is great to at last be here and to start my career, work with the men and work on a standard purpose which is to get to the major leagues.”
The 6-foot-3, 250 pound Puig was considered the fastest player in Cuba and the top prospect in the country’s premier league. He batted .330 with 17 home runs, 47 RBIs and 78 runs scored in 327 at-bats with the Cienfuegos Elefantes in the 2010-11 season.
“Like they say in the big leagues, I am a 5-tool player,” Puig said. “I have what it takes and do it with plenty of love. I am going to bring my best stuff to the L.A Dodgers. I do not want to disappoint the Dodgers or the fans.”
The right-handed batter was banned from playing in the 2011-12 season after again being caught trying to flee the country.
Prior to last Thursday’s workout, he only had participated in baseball activities once during the past 5 months, had not faced any pitching and had only held a bat once during that span, he hit in the batting cage and took part in fielding and throwing drills for about an hour in the 105-degree heat.
The deal Puig signed is the largest for a Cuban non-professional. In spite of the income, the Dodgers aren’t in any hurry to bring Puig to the majors. He is going to begin his pro career in the Arizona Rookie League as soon as he gets in shape and the proper paper work is finished.
“We did not sign him with the hope that if the Los Angeles Dodgers are at the halfway mark and they need hitting or if they want an outfielder, we didn’t sign him to be that fellow to come in right now,” Dodgers assistant GM Logan White recounted. “This is a long term thing with him.”
There were a lot of teams enthusiastic about Puig, especially the White Sox and Cubs. According to the baseball’s new collective negotiating arrangement, the Los Angeles Dodgers had to sign him by July 2. After that, cut off point teams only could sign international players for $2.9 million and most likely Puig wouldn’t have signed with Los Angeles.
“There was plenty of competition for him down there. In this business there is in-built risk in signing international players,” White said. “The level of baseball he played in Cuba was really good and his numbers were really good. When I look at everything factored in, I think the risk is really small. We are really pumped up about the potential of him being a really good player in future times. I’m very happy with the player we got.”