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.
Tied at a league-leading 10 home runs apiece with Cody Bellinger and Khris Davis, it wasn’t long before Brewers slugger Christian Yelich set himself apart from the competition yet again. During the bottom of the first inning on Friday, the 2018 NL MVP singled out the first pitch he saw from the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling — an 86.5-m.p.h. slider just wide of the strike zone — and returned it to the second deck seats in right field for his 11th home run of 2019.
While Bellinger and Davis will undoubtedly continue to make it difficult for Yelich to claim sole honors at the top of the leaderboard, the 27-year-old outfielder has had a banner year so far. Through the first three weeks of the season, he’s batting a strong .354/.447/.823 with 15 extra-base hits, 29 RBI, and three stolen bases across 94 plate appearances. The 29 RBI (27 entering Friday’s game) he collected between March and April eclipsed Prince Fielder’s previous franchise record of 26 RBI — and there’s no telling how much higher that total will rise by the end of the month, too.
Even with the benefit of Yelich’s immense talents, however, the Brewers are just clinging to a first-place tie with the Pirates atop the NL Central. They dropped their last two games to the Cardinals and Dodgers, respectively, and will need to overturn the remainder of their series against LA to build up their division lead again. They’re currently tied 2-2 with the Dodgers in the seventh.