Tag: INT

olivera getty

Don’t expect to see $62.5 million pickup Hector Olivera with the Dodgers anytime soon


Cuban infielder Hector Olivera signed a $62.5 million deal with the Dodgers last week, but don’t expect to see him in the majors anytime soon. In fact, he’s not even in America yet.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Olivera remains in the Dominican Republic “waiting for a visa.” Once that happens he’ll travel to Los Angeles for a physical exam, which is a bigger issue than usual due to concerns about the health of his elbow and worries that he may need Tommy John surgery.

If he’s deemed healthy enough to play Olivera will begin his American career in the minors, but it’s not clear which level yet. Howie Kendrick and Juan Uribe are manning third base and second base for the Dodgers, so there’s no sense that Olivera will be on the fast track to Los Angeles.

2015 Preview: San Diego Padres

A J Preller, Bud Black, Justin Upton, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, Wil Myers

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The San Diego Padres.

The Big Question: Who are these guys and what have they done with the Padres?

A.J. Preller was hired as the Padres general manager last August and he went into the offseason with a plan. Prior to the winter meetings, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Padres were “aggressively looking for hitters who can help them contend for (the) NL West title immediately.” The report drew some laughs, as it seemed incredibly ambitious and even unrealistic for a team which ranked last in pretty much every major offensive category last season while finishing under .500 for the fourth straight year. We quickly learned that he wasn’t messing around.

The biggest changes came in the outfield, with trades for Justin Upton (from the Braves), Matt Kemp (from the division rival Dodgers), and Wil Myers (in a three-team deal with the Rays and Nationals), but Preller also acquired 2014 All-Star catcher Derek Norris from the Athletics. There’s something to be said for not being loyal to the players you inherit from a previous regime. As a new GM, Preller was uniquely positioned for this rapid and unexpected overhaul. The cherry on top of their offseason was signing James Shields to a four-year, $75 million contract in early February. Joaquin Benoit’s $15.5 million deal was the franchise’s previous record guarantee to a free agent, so this is some uncharted territory we’re dealing with here. The Padres also threw money at some low-risk, high-reward types for their rotation with Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow. Despite all the activity, the Padres’ payroll isn’t going to be much higher than what it was last year. It helps that the Dodgers are paying nearly all of Kemp’s salary for this season.

Pitching was already a strength for the Padres, partially due to their home ballpark, but the addition of Shields makes them even better. He can now slot into the No. 1 spot while Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross all move down a peg. Odrisamer Despaigne held his own during his first season in the majors last year and should do fine as a fifth starter if Morrow and/or Johnson don’t pan out. Outfield defense is a concern, particularly in center field with Myers, but the Padres are hoping that what the trio does on offense offsets the deficiencies in the field.

Who knows if this is going to work out. Kemp is an injury risk and maybe all those innings finally catch up to Shields. Maybe Myers doesn’t bounce back and Upton (an impending free agent) becomes a trade candidate by midseason. But the Padres are trying something here and that’s pretty exciting. It’s always fun to be in San Diego, but even more so right now.

What else is going on?

  • It’s pretty remarkable that the Padres were able to make all of these moves and still managed to keep arguably three of their best prospects, right-hander Matt Wisler, outfielder Hunter Renfroe, and catcher Austin Hedges. I guess you could throw Rymer Liriano into that mix, as well. So they didn’t completely sell out their future this winter. You could also say that they still have the flexibility to make another big move if they really want to go for broke. Cole Hamels, perhaps?
  • My goodness, something has to give with these extra outfielders. The Padres dealt Seth Smith to the Mariners over the winter, but they still have basically their projected starting outfield from a couple of years ago — Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, and Carlos Quentin — under contract. Liriano also saw time at the major league level last year. Quentin could get hurt by the time I finish writing this sentence, but one would think we’ll see a trade soon to clear this logjam.
  • While right-handed sluggers Upton, Kemp, and Myers could put up big numbers in that outfield, the infield is another matter altogether. It’s a glaring weakness. Jedd Gyorko showed some potential during his rookie season in 2013, but he’s coming off a down year and he’s surrounded by the likes of Yonder Alonso, Alexi Amarista, Will Middlebrooks, Yangervis Solarte, Tommy Medica, and Clint Barmes. Not the most inspiring group. Perhaps Alonso or Middlebrooks can surprise, but that would require a leap of faith. This infield would be more interesting if they managed to outbid the Dodgers for Hector Olivera, but that ship has sailed.
  • With the additions of Upton, Kemp, Myers, Shields, and Norris, it’s easy to overlook the work that Preller did with his bullpen. Brandon Maurer came over in the Smith deal with the Mariners while Shawn Kelley was acquired from the Yankees for minor league right-hander Johnny Barbato. Both are intriguing potential late-inning arms. Padres manager Bud Black has a handful of interesting alternatives for the closer role if Benoit goes down at some point. I wouldn’t rule that possibility out, as Benoit will be 38 later this year and dealt with some shoulder issues down the stretch last year.
  • Saying “if he can stay healthy” should be obvious with any pitcher, but that’s especially the case with Cashner. The 28-year-old has flashed frontline potential at times, with a 2.96 ERA across 51 career starts, but he was limited to just 19 starts last season with elbow and shoulder issues and has never thrown more than 175 innings in a season before. This rotation has some questions — even Ross was shut down after a career-high 195 2/3 innings last year due to muscle soreness in his right forearm — but if things break right, they could be one of the best groups in the National League.

Prediction: I think it’s going to be close with the Giants, but what the heck, I’ll drink the offseason Kool-Aid. Second place, NL West and the second Wild Card spot.

Hector Olivera’s six-year, $62.5 million contract includes a Tommy John surgery clause

dodgers logo

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported earlier this month that “serious concern exists” about the structure of Hector Olivera’s throwing elbow. That report has been refuted by Olivera’s representatives and the 29-year-old Cuban infielder still managed to score a six-year, $62.5 million free agent contract Tuesday from the Dodgers, but the Los Angeles front office did give itself some protection.

Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors had this revelation first …

If Hector Olivera needs Tommy John surgery, there will be an extra year and $1 million added to Olivera’s contract, according to an industry source. It is currently unclear whether or not he’ll need Tommy John surgery, but one source says “he does have something” wrong within his elbow.

John Lackey had a similar clause in his five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Red Sox and will make just $507,500 from the Cardinals this year because of it. He needed Tommy John surgery in October 2011.

Olivera was primarily a second baseman in Cuba, but the Dodgers will likely try him at third base.

He was a .323/.407/.505 hitter in 10 seasons with Asvispas de Santiago of Cuba’s Serie Nacional.


UPDATE, 10:22 p.m. ET: MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that a recent MRI showed a slight tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in Olivera’s throwing elbow. He should be able to play through it.

Dodgers sign Cuban star Hector Olivera for $62.5 million

olivera getty

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.

Report: Cuban free agent infielder Hector Olivera likely to pick a team by Wednesday

olivera getty

The situation involving Cuban free agent infielder Hector Olivera has taken some interesting turns over the past month or so, with a report that he has potential ulnar collateral ligament damage in his elbow to him bringing on a new agent after he officially hit free agency, but it looks like the process is finally moving toward a resolution…

This confirms a report from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, who heard from Olivera’s agent, Greg Genske, that a deal should happen “soon.” Of course, we’ve heard that before with this situation.

From all accounts, the 29-year-old Olivera is someone who should be able to contribute in the majors right away. He’d most likely be a third baseman with the Dodgers or Padres. Juan Uribe is the current projected starter with Los Angeles while Yangervis Solarte and Will Middlebrooks are competing for the job with San Diego.