Hector Olivera is a Free Agent Until He isn’t


Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

That’s a hell of an informative title isn’t it? The Hector Olivera saga has gone one for over a month, and nobody knows where he’s going. Any real news causes people to overreact to potential landing spots, given that he’s the last impact name left on the market.

The Dodgers have been tied to him forever, and this is something else


This gives us so much to wade through, are the Dodgers this serious about him? They really want to be locked up to Olivera for 6 years? If they’re giving him more money than Chase Headley, they must love him, right? Well, lets start with what happened at the beginning of the week:

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Santin is a big deal in Cuban circles. Santin represented Alexander Guerrero wayyy back in the summer of 2013 where Guerrero got that absurd 7 year, 32 million dollar deal initially.

After jerking the Dodgers around several times, probably to inflate his market and increase the price on him, Guerrero dumped Santin and hired Boras, he got a slightly less absurd 4 year, 28 million dollar deal in the end (which made sense at the time) but is still a total albatross going into his sophomore season.

But that’s not the end of the involvement with Santin and the Dodgers, remember when Yasiel Puig wasn’t a Dodger? Well despite of all the troubles the Dodgers had with him in 2013, he was at the forefront of one of the more absurd instances in international scouting. Essentially, Puig completely abandoned his agent, Jaime Torres to go visit Rudy Santin in Cancun around 5 in the morning, where he was supposed to work out in Mexico City at 10 in the morning.

"Torres said he received word within the last two days that Santin had been claiming to be the agent for Puig. Torres said he was unable to get in touch with Puig by phone, and when he inquired with the MLB players’ association, he was told that nobody else had filed paperwork to represent him. Santin said he had flown into Cancun on Tuesday and worked out an agreement with Puig to represent him in exchange for three percent of his contract. According to Santin, he had Puig signed to an agent-player agreement and Puig had signed a termination of service letter with Torres that Santin had sent to MLB. At some point early this morning—around 5 a.m., in Santin’s estimation—Puig had vanished."

Puig eventually went back to Torres, but order and Rudy Santin don’t ever go together. So when there are reports of Olivera seeking 70+ million just to talk, it might not be legitimate. Remember when James Shields had well over 100 million in the bank and people wondered why he didn’t take it?

Agents gonna agent.

Anyways, Keith Law cited a major league source essentially saying that Olivera’s representation is a joke (link for the PG-13 version). So we know that there is a history of chaos with the person previously representing Olivera, and we now that that person isn’t representing Hector anymore, which is why this makes more sense.

It’s a real wrench in the entire process. I think it’s fair to say that if Olivera really got a 77 million dollar offer at any point, that he’d be a Dodger, but I also think it’s fair to say that he was represented by some questionable people who could have turned it down just to get teams more money out of whoever ultimately signs him. I can’t definitively say that the Cuban defector turned down a 77 million dollar deal, but I wouldn’t be stunned if he did.

Regardless, the 77 million figure is problematic in and of itself.  MLB rules state that a player added to the 40 man roster, begin an arbitration clock, and as soon as the player hits 3 years, he is eligible for arbitration, like Kenley Jansen, or Justin Turner, or Darwin Barney were eligible for arbitration this offseason. So unless otherwise specified, Olivera would be under team control for 6 seasons, effectively taking him into his age 36 season.

If the Dodgers offered him 77 million dollars, it had to have been a 6 year deal, so Olivera would have great financial security, but no faith that he could earn a significant paycheck at age 33 or 34.  A hypothetical Padres offer of 4 years, 44 million dollars, is just behind a Dodgers offer of 6 years, 77 million from an Average Annual Value standpoint (1.28 million dollar differential a year), and might be more appealing, setting Olivera up for one last paycheck depending on how he plays over the course of the deal.

And that’s what makes the change of agents much more problematic. Nobody knows what Greg Genske thinks is best for Olivera, with Cuban defectors the process is different because they are essentially major league free agents with the concept of arbitration to work into their deal. So maybe Genske thinks what’s best for Olivera is a 6 year deal with the ability to opt into arbitration, maybe that’s a 3 year deal and the ability to opt into free agency, or a 4 year deal with a straight track to free agency. It is a mystery right now and all of the progress that was made under Santin is potentially undone because of a change in agents.

So after ALL that information, this comes out from Jon Heyman

"According to sources, the Dodgers have recently requested a second MRI on the elbow of the hard-hitting Olivera – the next great international player ready to sign with the big leagues – and at least initially it is believe Olivera declined to provide that."

Which is incredible. Who knows if Olivera is healthy, he says he’s healthy, his representative (presumably both his previous agents and current agents) have told clubs that he’s healthy. But a torn UCL can be problematic in diagnosing, treating, and operating on. Kiley McDaniel accurately says that

"Olivera hasn’t played in a competitive game in awhile, hasn’t played in the field on even a part-time basis in years, and hasn’t played an international game (the only games that MLB teams can scout Cubans in person) in years. He has a blood disorder that knocked him out of game action for over a year, turns 30 next month and was noticeably fatigued in some private workouts for clubs, which were all scheduled with plenty of downtime between so he could recover."

But after all this, there are people who say that Olivera is the 3rd best Cuban to come out of Cuba in the last decade. Olivera is good enough to start on a contending team, Olivera offers a potential long term fix on a team that has so many questions in the infield.

On the other hand, busting on Alexander Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena, and potentially Hector Olivera reflects poorly on a franchise that had hit a grand slam on Yasiel Puig. At the end of today, Hector Olivera is a free agent until he isn’t. If the organization (who is really good at the whole evaluating talent in the international arena thing) values Olivera highly, that is enough of an endorsement for me. But boy this whole process is tiresome at best, and closer to a complete mess than anything.