The Hector Olivera sweepstakes are heating up. The Cuban infielder reportedly now has offers in hand from the Braves, Giants, Dodgers and Padres. The Marlins and Athletics are also reportedly in the mix. As with all marquee international signings, there is a good deal of smoke and mirrors being deployed by all of the teams involved in the chase for Olivera, who is considered more Major League ready than his compatriot Yoan Moncada, who signed with the Red Sox earlier this winter.
Olivera is seeking a six-year deal, although most teams in the bidding consider that too steep an ask for a 29-year-old infielder with several red flags in his health file. The biggest concern with Olivera is the UCL in his throwing elbow, but scouts have reported that his arm appears strong in workouts. Olivera’s inner circle continues to deny there are any concerns with his elbow. There is no concern when it comes to Olivera’s ability to handle the bat, as he has slashed .323/.407/.505 in ten seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional.
The latest reported offer comes from Jon Heyman at CBS Sports. Heyman is reporting that the Braves have offered Olivera four years and $44 million. According to an inside source, the Braves offer comes up a little short, but that may not rule them out, as they have a Cuban manager in Fredi Gonzalez. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported last week that the Dodgers had offered six years and $77 million. The validity of that report should be questioned, however, as Olivera’s name would likely have already been signed on the dotted line if such a contract had been offered. Additional reports have the Padres and the Marlins both in the range of five years and $52-53 million. The level of interest from the Athletics is hard to gauge right now, but they should not be counted out, as they have shown a willingness to reach into the Cuban free agent market in the past, signing Yoenis Cespedes.
Olivera’s agent Greg Genske has said that he expects a deal to be completed by the end of this week, but at this time, there have been no reports that a deal is close. The Dodgers remain the Wild Card in this free agent chase. In the words of one team interested in Olivera, “Look, if the Dodgers want him, they can get him.”