J.P. Hoonstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports that the Dodgers have signed veteran catcher Miguel Olivo to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Olivo batted just .203 with a .642 OPS and 23 strikeouts in 80 plate appearances last season for the Marlins. He walked out on the team in June after they refused to grant his request for release and spent the rest of the summer at home.
A.J. Ellis is ticketed to start for the Dodgers at catcher and Tim Federowicz is expected to be the backup, so Olivo is a longshot to crack Los Angeles’ Opening Day roster or make any sort of meaningful impact for the club in 2014. The 35-year-old is a .241/.275/.417 career hitter at the major league level. His career-best season was 2009, when he tallied 23 home runs and 65 RBI in 114 games with the Royals.
The Dodgers also signed 25-year-old catcher Geoff Erickson to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. He has never appeared in a major league game.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.