Photo Credit: BronxBaseballDaily.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Cuban infielder prospect Hector Olivera have agreed to a deal worth $62.5 million over five-years. The deal includes a $28 million signing bonus.
Olivera remained as a unique free agent, due to him coming from Cuba. According to Baseball-Refrence.com, in ten seasons in Cuba, Olivera held a fantastic .323 batting average. In addition, Olivera belted 96 home runs and tallied 433 RBI’s. At age 29, turning 30 on April 5, Olivera is considered to be a ready-now prospect. Something fellow Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada was not at the time.
The Dodgers have a familiarity with Cuban prospects, such as their own star outfielder Yasiel Puig. Other teams have expressed significant interest in the infielder, such as the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants.
The final suitors for Olivera’s services seemed to be the Dodgers and the Padres. The Dodgers were in a superior bidding position opposed to the Padres; following their luxurious offseason.
The unique nature Olivera provides for the Dodgers is versatility. He has shown the capability of playing second, third, and first base. Not only has the fielding versatility impress the scouts, but rather on his hitting abilities. Ideas such as 20 home runs and 70 to 80 RBI are to be expected, adding to the impressive Dodger’s lineup.
Joining Moncada to Major League Baseball (MLB) was expected. Moncada (19) recently signed with the Boston Red Sox; his contract coming with a $31.5 million bonus. Due to the Red Sox’s exceeding their international spending limit, they will have to pay a 100 percent tax on Moncada’s contract, bringing his deal to a total of $63 million.
Olivera’s contract exceeds other Cuban prospects such as Puig, which came in at $42 million. According to Mike Polishuck, of MLBTradeRumors.com, some scouts were concerned with his one-year absence from baseball, due to Olivera recovering from a blood clot in his arm. After his return, he primarily occupied the designated hitter role.
There have been reports claiming Olivera had a damaged ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), bringing a wary nature among clubs. Shortly after hearing the news, Olivera’s camp strongly disagreed with the previous statement and reassured MLB clubs of Olivera’s services. Following the report, Olivera passed all his physicals.
The Dodgers have acquired a ballplayer who is capable of contributing to the franchise immediately, although a month of minor-league baseball is almost inevitable. With the possible departures of shortstop Jimmy Rollins and third baseman Juan Uribe next year, Olivera is an option for the Dodgers for a long-term role.