After months of speculation and rumors about where Cuban star Hector Olivera would sign and for how much, the end result was pretty predictable: He’s going to the richest team in baseball for a whole bunch of money, signing with the Dodgers for six years and $62.5 million.
Olivera has struggled with injuries recently, but the 30-year-old infielder is projected as an impact bat and if healthy should be able to step into the Dodgers’ lineup very soon. He played mostly second base in Cuba, but there are some worries about the state of his elbow and Olivera would be a big middle infielder at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds.
He’s been a high-average right-handed hitter with good on-base skills and significant power in Cuba, although not on the same level as the raw power possessed by Jose Abreu or Yoenis Cespedes. Third baseman Juan Uribe’s job would seemingly be in the most jeopardy once Olivera is deemed ready and in terms of his 2016 position both Uribe and second baseman Howie Kendrick are impending free agents.
The rich get richer and the Dodgers’ new front office shows they’re just as willing as the old front office to make a big splash signing Cuban players.
Last week Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu left camp and went back to Los Angeles to have his sore shoulder examined and the news is relatively good. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that no structural damage was found.
However, he’ll be shut down for at least 2-3 weeks and will begin the season on the disabled list. Joe Wieland seems like the best bet to take his place in the rotation early on.
Ryu has been very good since signing with the Dodgers in 2013, throwing 344 innings with a 3.17 ERA and 293/78 K/BB ratio.
Arizona needs catching help and Dioner Navarro wants to be traded away from Toronto after being pushed to the bench by Russell Martin, so why isn’t there a natural fit between the two teams?
Navarro is owed $5 million this season and Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com:
We can’t take on another $5 million, so that’s not going to work for us. The money doesn’t fit.
Tuffy Gosewisch is slated to be the Diamondbacks’ starting catcher, with either Gerald Laird or Blake Lalli backing him up. FanGraphs rated that group as the worst catching situation in all of baseball, so if the Diamondbacks aren’t willing to spend another $5 million to add a solid, readily available veteran like Navarro that says a lot about their expectations this year.
Second baseman Brian Dozier and the Twins have agreed to a four-year, $20 million contract that begins this season by raising his salary from the league minimum to $2 million.
Dozier was already under team control through 2018, so the Twins are essentially just giving him a salary bump for 2015 and then pre-paying for his three arbitration-eligible seasons at a cost of $3 million in 2016, $6 million in 2017, and $9 million in 2018.
There are no option years included in the contract, so Dozier will still be eligible for free agency following the 2018 season. Minnesota basically just gained cost certainty while committing $20 million in guaranteed money they otherwise could have gone year-to-year with on a player who had a nice breakout in 2014–.242 with 23 homers, 21 steals, and a .762 OPS–but was previously not assumed to be a major part of their long-term plans.
Washington released veteran reliever Heath Bell, who signed a minor-league deal with the Nationals in December.
Bell showed up to camp in The Best Shape Of His Life and would have earned $1 million for cracking the Opening Day roster, but the 37-year-old former All-Star closer struggled in a handful of appearances.
As recently as 2013 he was a decent middle reliever with a good strikeout rate, so Bell should be able to latch on somewhere else if he wants to keep the comeback attempt going.