Hector Olivera was the big get for the Braves in the three-team, 13-player deal before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And if all goes according to plan, it won’t be much longer before we see him in the majors.
Olivera landed a six-year, $62.5 million contract with the Dodgers earlier this year. The 30-year-old has been limited to just 25 games in the minors this season due to a hamstring injury, but he’s set to play his first game with Triple-A Gwinnett tonight. He’s starting at third base, which is where he’ll play when he joins the Braves.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman spent some time with Olivera while he was rehabbing his wrist injury in Florida and he was impressed with what he saw.
Olivera had a .323/.407/.505 batting line over 10 seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional.
The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.
The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.
The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.