The latest from Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com …
The Braves have offered a four-year deal to star Cuban free agent Hector Olivera, but at least the Padres, Giants and bigger-spending Dodgers are in the mix and multiple teams are thought to be offering five years. The A’s and Marlins also have been connected to Olivera, though it isn’t known how involved those teams are.
Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported late last week that the Dodgers had offered Olivera a $77 million contract, but the 29-year-old second baseman surely would have signed with Los Angeles by this point if that figure was accurate.
Spencer also heard from sources that the Marlins offered $53 million, the Padres offered $52 million, and the Braves came in at $44 million. Those numbers do jibe with some of Heyman’s most recent reporting.
Olivera was a .323/.407/.505 hitter in 10 seasons with Asvispas de Santiago of Cuba’s Serie Nacional. There have been questions raised about the structure of his throwing elbow, but sources close to Olivera have flatly denied that the elbow is an issue at all. This whole situation remains shrouded in mystery.
Olivera’s agent, Greg Genske, says a deal will “likely” be completed by the end of this week.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.