Apr 12, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres general manager Josh Byrnes prior to the game against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park. . Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
There was somewhat of an obscure report coming out earlier today from Cuban historian Peter Bjarkman that said the Dodgers have landed Hector Olivera. Being as it was a report from Cuba, people have (rightfully) taken it with a grain of salt, as reports from that part of the world are very shaky and often lacking in reputability. BUT Peter Bjarkman does hold somewhat of a voice in the reporting game, and that was validated when Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi mentioned that in their latest article detailing the pursuit of Yoan Moncada and Hector Olivera by the Dodgers.
The news about Moncada isn’t anything new, basically detailing that the Dodgers are among the favorites to sign him, talking about the restrictions, but saying that the Dodgers have so much financial might that they might sign him and not care about the restrictions anyways. We’ve heard all that before, even though this New York post suggests that the Yankees don’t like the pricetag (!?) of Moncada and the Dodgers are seen as the favorites which… -swoons-. Take it for what you will, similar things were said of Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees once upon a time.
However, what’s a little bit more concrete was the manner in which they talked about Olivera.
"Peter Bjarkman, a prominent author and expert on Cuban baseball, reported Monday that he believes free-agent infielder Hector Olivera will sign with the Dodgers.Bjarkman also reported that a deal between Olivera and the Dodgers is not done"
Which makes sense because Olivera hasn’t been cleared to sign yet, and if Alexander Guerrero taught us anything, a lot of things can happen before a contract is ultimately signed, even if Guerrero ended up in LA. anyways It’s been separately reported that the Dodgers have a lot of interest in Olivera, so the report isn’t necessarily exclusive, the Dodgers like him, a lot.
You’ll note that Bjarkman has done some great work in the game, he is certainly a credible reporter so the deal might end up going through as soon as he’s cleared, there are several instances of under the table deals being done by MLB teams and international type players. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com feels like Olivera could sign shortly after he’s cleared so this situation would make sense.
This is all exciting, because Cubans are exciting! Cuban hitters have a pretty good track record of hitting in the major leagues even if the defensive issues of some (cough cough Alex Guerrero) have felled them. Olivera plays 2b and 3b and given his size, he is probably going to be seen as a Third Baseman in the big leagues, which is great because Juan Uribe isn’t staying healthy for the entire season and he’s a free agent after next season.
This is good, unless Olivera isn’t, in which case it will be bad. (Insight!)
Kiley McDaniel expects the deal to ultimately be a 3 year deal worth somewhere between 25-30 million dollars, that’s quite the disparity between “Rusney Castillo money” and one of these deals for a 30 year old Cuban defector is better than the other. I personally don’t like the swing, and neither does Dustin Nosler, so that is something to keep an eye on. I wouldn’t hate a deal in the vicinity of 30 million dollars, but the health issues Olivera has displayed are serious, the thrombosis in his left bicep is scary.
Also take this for what it’s worth but a former MLB pitcher has also reported that the Dodgers are close to signing Olivera
I guess this comes down to the faith you have in the Dodgers scouting department, Josh Byrnes is fairly good at his job, as are Farhan Zaidi and Andrew Friedman. That trio of minds probably sees Hector Olivera as a better option for Third Base than David Freese, Juan Uribe, or any other potential option in 2016 for the Dodgers, and a guy who can learn on the fly in the big leagues.
Keep an eye on whether this does get done because it could mark the beginning of a wild spending spree on Cuban talent for the Dodgers, something that will never not be exciting.