Back in late March, it was reported that the Dodgers had agreed to a six-year, $62.5 million contract with Cuban infielder Hector Olivera and an $8 million minor league contract with right-hander Pablo Fernandez. But because the two are Cuban defectors, it took a little while for all of the parties involved to sort out the necessary paperwork.
The wait finally ended on Tuesday afternoon, per the Dodgers’ official Twitter account …
Eury de la Rosa, a 25-year-old left-hander, was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Olivera, who will head to extended spring training for a couple of weeks but could join the Dodgers at some point in early-to-mid June. It’s not clear at this point how he’s going to fit on the Los Angeles depth chart, but these things tend to sort themselves out over time. Olivera, 30, was a 323/.407/.505 hitter in 10 seasons with Asvispas de Santiago of Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He can play all around the infield defensively.
Fernandez, a 25-year-old with a well-developed arsenal of pitches, will also head to extended spring training in Arizona before joining one of the Dodgers’ minor league affiliates. He worked primarily as a relief pitcher in his native Cuba, but the Dodgers are expected to try him as a starter first. Fernandez posted a promising 2.83 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings during the 2013-2014 season in Serie Nacional.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.