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Dodgers Officially Sign Cuban Yasiel Puig

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract on Friday.

The Dodgers signed the 21-year-old to the biggest deal ever given to a Cuban defector in the latest bold financial move by the team’s new ownership group.

Puig gets a $12 million signing bonus and will make $2 million in each of his first three seasons. He’ll make $4.5 million, $5.5 million, $6.5 million and $7.5 million in the final four years of his deal.

Puig, who is waiting for a visa in Mexico City, will get half of his signing bonus within 30 days after he reports to the Dodgers’ camp in Arizona and his contract is approved by Major League Baseball. The other half is payable next Jan. 15.

“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.”

Puig has rarely played outside Cuba, but he excelled with Cienfuegos during the 2010-11 season, batting .330 with 17 homers, 47 RBIs and a .430 on-base percentage in just 327 at-bats while mostly playing center field.

The 6-foot-3 slugger sat out last season for disciplinary reasons. Puig has made numerous attempts to defect, and recently established residency in Mexico.

“Yasiel is a fantastic kid with an infectious personality, and we think he has the tools to be a front-line player in the major leagues,” said Logan White, the Dodgers’ assistant general manager in charge of scouting. “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.”

Puig worked out for several major league teams last weekend in Mexico City, and the Dodgers outbid their rivals, who reportedly included the Cubs and White Sox.

Puig will report to the Dodgers’ spring training complex in Glendale, Ariz., when he enters the country. The Dodgers assigned him to their Arizona rookie team and placed him on the temporary inactive list Friday, moving infielder Justin Sellers to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster.

The Dodgers dramatically reduced their traditional pursuit of international talent under the budget-cutting ownership of Frank McCourt, but they’re jumping back into the game under the Magic Johnson-fronted group that finalized its purchase of the team earlier this season.

Los Angeles also beat a provision in the new collective bargaining agreement that penalizes teams spending more than $2.9 million on international free agents starting Monday.

Yoenis Cespedes’ four-year, $36 million deal with the Oakland Athletics in February was the previous record for a Cuban defector. Outfielder Jorge Soler got a nine-year, $30 million deal from the Chicago Cubs earlier this month.

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