Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports. That means Olivera is free to negotiate and sign with any team at any time. He’s expected to garner a contract in the $50-70 million range.
The Dodgers, Braves, Padres, Athletics, Yankees, and Giants are believed to have the most interest in Olivera at this time. Olivera, who defected from Cuba last September, will turn 30 years old on April 5. He has batted .323/.407/.505 with 96 home runs and 433 RBI across 10 seasons in the Cuban National Series.
Olivera was believed to have suffered a UCL injury but his representatives refuted the claim, saying he passed four physicals per Baseball America’s Ben Badler.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.