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“"To compete at the highest levels for the best players, whether it's Latin America or Asia, to be able to compete and have your scouts go out and do their jobs, that's how this organization really made its mark in the '60s and '70s and onward in the '80s," Colletti said. "It was able to scout and develop some of the best players." Colletti is putting no timetable on his high-priced acquisition, saying the Dodgers "will let his talent dictate" how quickly Puig makes the majors. He's more interested in getting Puig into the country to see what he can do to restock the Dodgers' talent base. "It's kind of the same as with any of our draft picks," manager Don Mattingly said. "Talking with Ned yesterday, it didn't sound like he was talking about this guy showing up on our radar like next year or anything. They talk about him being able to play pretty much anywhere in the outfield and a guy that could fly -- but more as a minor league prospect at this point." 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 with an escalating tax that could make these signings prohibitively expensive. "It's a rare opportunity," Colletti said. "These types of players with that speed and power combination are very rarely available. All things considered, we had to be aggressive. The chance and the opportunity to do what we did were in a very short period of time. After that, all dynamics change." 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 possibly related to his attempts to defect -- or to his arrest on shoplifting charges while playing in a tournament in the Netherlands last summer. Although the Dodgers didn't disclose the details of his departure from Cuba, Puig has made numerous attempts to defect, and he recently established residency in Mexico. That's where White saw him last weekend when Puig worked out for several major league teams, reportedly including the Cubs and White Sox. Although Puig hadn't swung a bat in five months and had gained a little weight during virtual house arrest in Cuba, White saw everything he needed to confirm the Dodgers' scouting reports. White didn't flinch in saying Puig reminds him of Sammy Sosa. "It's going to take him a little while to work into playing shape," White said. "We went into this knowing (that). We didn't look at this guy as a guy who's going to impact this team this season. If it happens, great. He came in and said he and I need to do some jogging in Arizona and get in shape, but he's a beast. He looks like a linebacker. He's probably around 230 right now, but ... put him out there next to Matt Kemp in a uniform, and you'll say, 'Wow, who's that guy?'" White also loved Puig's personality and enthusiasm about the game along with his five-tool skills, including speed and a strong throwing arm. Puig will get in shape at 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. 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. After the Dodgers dramatically reduced their traditional pursuit of international talent under the budget-cutting ownership of Frank McCourt, they're back in the game. It's a relief to White and his scouts who stayed updated on the top international talent even while knowing they couldn't pursue it. "It's a long time coming," White said. "The only thing surreal about the signing to me is finally we have an opportunity to do these kinds of things."
It's a rare opportunity. These types of players with that speed and power combination are very rarely available. All things considered, we had to be aggressive. The chance and the opportunity to do what we did were in a very short period of time. After that, all dynamics change.” -- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti