LOS ANGELES -- The purge of poor investments from the previous regime continued for the Dodgers on Wednesday, with the team designating shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for new pitcher Brett Anderson.
Arruebarrena, who turns 25 in March, signed a five-year, $25 million contract in February, of which $16 million and four years remain, though it should be noted that he also has at least six seasons before he would have enough service time to qualify for free agency.
The Dodgers have 10 days to try to trade Arruebarrena, if they can find a taker. If not, the shortstop will be placed on waivers and, should he clear waivers — a prospect more likely given his relatively hefty salary — the Dodgers can send Arruebarrena outright to the minors without his consent, keeping him as organizational depth but off the 40-man roster.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said in a conference call Wednesday that the club talked with three to five teams about Arreubarrena over the course of the offseason.
"We have had some conversation with teams about him prior to this point. With the designation period, we have a few days to see what kind of interest level there is," Zaidi said. "It's certainly a possibility he stays in the organization, but it's hard to say. It depends on some of the teams we talked about if they are still looking for infield help."
Zaidi said with the acquisitions of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, even on one-year deals, Arruebarrena was pushed down the depth chart, and with Corey Seager and Enrique Hernandez looming as options in 2016 if not sooner, it was easier to cut Arruebarrena loose.
"Just with the guys we brought in, and Corey coming up, it was a position of surplus for us at this point," Zaidi said. "It's a moving picture. At the start of the offseason he was very much on the major league depth chart in the middle infield. But after some of the acquisitions we made pushed him further down.
"When it comes to 40-man roster moves, you just have to ask yourself, 'Who is the guy who you can most afford to be without if you have to?' It's always going to be someone at a position of surplus."
Arruebarrena hit .195/.244/.220 (8-for-41) in 22 games with the Dodgers, and batted .259/.304/.417 in 68 games across four minor league levels in 2014, including a pair of rehab assignments. However, without his 12 games in hitter-friendly Albuquerque, Arruebarrena managed just a .238/.268/.408 slash line in 51 minor league games, with 78 strikeouts and just eight walks.
For what it's worth, Arruebarrena doesn't have a body of work large enough to warrant a 2015 projection from The Bill James Handbook, but his Steamer projection for next year of .208/.252/.291 is so low that his .243 wOBA ranks 2,184st among the 4,367 players given offensive projections for 2015.
At the very least, the next week or so should provide a nice lesson as to just how much defense on its own is valued in baseball.
Arruebarrena has 74 days of major league service time and, should he find his way back to a 40-man roster at some point, two option years remaining. But it is now an open question as to whether one of those options will be used in 2015, at least with the Dodgers.