Cuban infielder Hector Olivera was officially declared a free agent by MLB yesterday and his representatives are aiming high in contract talks.
Executives from two teams involved in the bidding told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that Olivera’s representatives expect to land a deal north of $70 million. If that’s the case, teams apparently aren’t scared off by the recent report that Olivera could have a damaged ulnar collateral ligament. Olivera’s camp has refuted the report and told Ben Badler of Baseball America that he has passed four physicals.
As opposed to Yoan Moncada, Olivera is not a young player. He’ll be 30 in April, so if healthy, he’s someone who could contribute in the majors right away. He’s also not subject to international draft pools. Rusney Castillo’s $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox is the current record for an international free agent, but it seems like Olivera’s representatives believe that he has a chance to match or surpass it. The Dodgers and Yankees are among the teams who have shown interest in him.
Injury concerns aside, Olivera posted an impressive .323/.407/.505 batting line over 10 seasons with Asvispas de Santiago in Serie Nacional. He could be an option to play second base or third base in MLB.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.