Atlanta Braves Rumors

Atlanta Braves trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Poll: Where Will Hector Olivera Sign?

It’s been a whirlwind week on the Hector Olivera front, as the 29-year-old Cuban infielder switched agents earlier this week and is said to be weighing offers of four to six years in length, with the ultimate price tag expected to land around $50MM as recently as last night. Per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez — who discussed Olivera and other Cuban players with Jeff Todd on the MLBTR Podcast last month — Olivera has received strong interest from the Dodgers, Braves, A’s, Marlins, Padres and Giants. To this point, the Braves have made an offer and are reportedly interested in the $30-40MM range, while the Padres are said to be considering an offer worth upwards of $50MM. Olivera has already conducted physicals for the Braves, Dodgers and Padres, and possibly other clubs as well. Let’s take a quick look at how he’d fit on each of the reportedly interested clubs…

  • Dodgers — The Dodgers have Howie Kendrick and Juan Uribe at second and third base, respectively, which are Olivera’s two best positions. Uribe is a free agent next winter and could shift into a super utility role, as he has plenty of experience at shortstop and second base in the Majors as well. However, much of his value has come from his suddenly excellent work at third base over the past two seasons, and the Dodgers may have to use Alex Guerrero in a super utility role due to his contract, which allows him to refuse an assignment to the Minors.
  • Braves — Olivera could step directly into Atlanta’s lineup at second base, as he’d be an upgrade with the bat over likely starter Alberto Callaspo and potential utility player Jace Peterson. Braves fans will point out that Jose Peraza is believed to be the long-term answer at second, but he’s at least a year away, and Olivera could always unseat Chris Johnson at third base; Johnson posted just a .292 OBP with little power last year and is not well-regarded defensively.
  • Athletics — The A’s will likely use Ben Zobrist at second and Brett Lawrie at third this year, though Zobrist could be used in the outfield, presumably left field, if Olivera were signed. Zobrist is only controlled through this season, so Olivera makes sense as a long-term option for the A’s at second base.
  • Marlins — The Marlins’ infield situation is crowded, and there’s no spot opening up for the next two years, barring a trade. Still, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported last night that Miami is comfortable in the $50MM range with Olivera and believes he could handle all four infield spots. Per Frisaro, the Fish would like to rest Mike Morse one or two days per week and also would like to spell Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop from time to time.
  • Padres — Olivera would likely start over one of Jedd Gyorko or Will Middlebrooks at second or third base. It’s possible that Middlebrooks could eventually wind up playing first base, depending on how well Yonder Alonso hits this season. The two could at least platoon, one would imagine, allowing Gyorko and Olivera to handle second and third (each player can handle both positions).
  • GiantsJoe Panik looks to be their second baseman this season, but much of Panik’s 2014 success was driven by a .343 BABIP that may be too high to repeat, and he doesn’t offer much in terms of power or speed. Even if the Giants feel Panik is the long-term answer at second, they could shift him to a bench role this year and slide Olivera over to third next year after Casey McGehee becomes a free agent.

It’s possible that another club will enter the mix unexpectedly, as Olivera’s agency shift has reportedly expanded the level of interest. (His previous agents had been touting a $70MM goal.) However, at this point, these appear to be the six top landing spots, which seems like plenty of fuel to conduct a poll.


NL Notes: Thornton, Dodgers, Young, Neshek

Nationals lefty Matt Thornton has exceedingly rare velocity for his age, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes. Now 38, Thornton joins former closer Billy Wagner as the only 35-and-up southpaws to sustain a 95+ mph average fastball over an entire season. Thornton’s method of maintaining his velo is rooted in a somewhat non-traditional workout program and commitment to an early but gradual build-up each offseason. The Nats have benefited thus far from picking up the veteran on a waiver claim last August, thus taking on his $3.5MM salary this year, and he is arguably the club’s top left-handed pen arm heading into 2015.

More from around the National League:

  • The new Dodgers front office is finding its hands tied somewhat in putting together a final roster, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes. While the organization likely would prefer to open the year with recent acquisitions Chris Heisey and Enrique Hernandez on the bench, the contracts of Andre Ethier and Alex Guerrero make that difficult. Both Heisey and Hernandez have options, creating some flexibility, and will presumably start out at Triple-A unless the team swings a trade.
  • Eric Young Jr. is the early leader for the Braves center field job out of camp, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Manager Fredi Gonzalez says that the club feels comfortable with Young’s ability to play the position defensively in spite of his limited experience.
  • Reliever Pat Neshek says he was somewhat disappointed, but understanding, of the Cardinals‘ decision not to pursue him after his breakout year with the club, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Neshek ultimately landed with the Astros for two years and $12.5MM. In discussions during last season, GM John Mozeliak told Neshek that he held a “lottery ticket” and that the team would not be able to compete with the offers Neshek would receive on the open market. “In one sense it was kind of disappointing,” said Neshek, “but he knew it. He saw better. He could do something cheaper and try to get better. I see where they’re coming from. It was a good run. It worked out for everybody.”

Hector Olivera Weighing Four- To Six-Year Offers

Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is weighing offers that range from four to six years in length and could come to terms with a team this week, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Sanchez’s sources indicate that the Dodgers, Braves, Marlins, Padres, A’s and Giants have all shown a strong interest in Olivera, who will turn 30 early next month.

Olivera’s market has been anything but typical, as while scouts believe he’s Major League ready and could hit 15-20 homers with strong OBP marks right out of the gate, he also comes with myriad health issues and underwent a late change of representation, switching to the Legacy Agency’s Greg Genske earlier this week. Olivera has a blood disorder that at one time caused clotting in his biceps but is said to be cleared up now, and a report last week indicated that he may have damage to his ulnar collateral ligament as well. Olivera maintains that he is completely healthy, and multiple teams, including the Braves, Dodgers and Padres, have already conducted physicals.

Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro hears that Olivera’s price tag is expected to land in the $50MM range, and the Marlins are comfortable making an offer in that vicinity (though he does not specify the number of years, and clearly, $50MM over four years would be drastically different than $50MM over six). As for where he would play in Miami, Frisaro notes that the Marlins believe Olivera could handle all four infield positions, and the team would like to get Mike Morse a day or two off per week. They’d also like to keep Adeiny Hechavarria fresher at shortstop by resting him periodically.

Reports last night indicated that the Padres were weighing an offer that was worth “upwards of $50MM,” though no length of contract was specified. The Braves also reportedly have an offer on the table to Olivera, and their comfort zone is reportedly in the $30-40MM range.



NL East Notes: Olivera, Lee, Scherzer

We have not heard much today on Hector Olivera after a busy run the last few days, but the Braves are still “monitor[ing] his market,” per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Atlanta’s comfort level on cost seems to land in the $30MM to $40MM range, per the report.

Here are a few more notes from the NL East:

  • Phillies veteran Cliff Lee did not experience any improvement in his bullpen session today, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports“I got through it,” he said. “There’s still something there. Same as yesterday.” Lee will throw again Thursday, and says he will keep trying to work through the discomfort so long as it does not get worse. The situation has wide-ranging implications, of course, one of them simply on the remainder of the club’s staff. Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News breaks down the latest on some of the team’s next men up, including Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, and Miguel Gonzalez.
  • Nationals starter Max Scherzer says that there really was a mystery team (other than his former club, the Tigers) that pursued him over the winter, as James Schmehl of MLive.com reports (Twitter links). Scherzer added that he was surprised that Detroit went public regarding the significant extension offer he signed last spring.

Braves, Peter Moylan Agree To Minor League Deal

MARCH 11: Atlanta has announced a two-year, minor league deal with Moylan. When he is done rehabbing, Moylan will become a player/coach with the club’s Rookie affiliate.

MARCH 6: The Braves and right-hander Peter Moylan have agreed to a minor league pact that will bring the Australian-born sidearmer back to Atlanta, where his Major League career began, MLBTR’s Zach Links reports on Twitter.

Moylan, as O’Brien notes, is about 11 months into rehab from his second Tommy John surgery and could be ready to pitch by midseason. The 36-year-old Moylan has been injury prone throughout his career, having also undergone surgeries to repair a bulging disc in his back and a torn labrum in his right shoulder. However, from 2007-10, he made 259 relief appearances with the Braves, working to a 2.44 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 232 1/3 innings. Moylan’s sidearm delivery has always been tough on righties, who have just a .597 OPS against him in his career. However, it’s also led to problems against left-handed batters, as hitters have roughed up for an .805 OPS when holding the platoon advantage.

Moylan’s back surgery, shoulder surgery and second Tommy John have all come since 2011, which helps to explain why the Aussie has totaled just 28 2/3 innings over the past four seasons combined. He didn’t pitch in the Majors at all last year, though he was in Major League camp with the Astros after signing a minor league deal.


NL West Notes: Tomas, D-Backs, Peavy, Sandoval

While early word on Yasmany Tomas‘ work at third base was positive, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports now hears from scouts that Tomas isn’t cutting it at the hot corner (Twitter links). The result, then, could end up a significant outfield logjam featuring Tomas, A.J. Pollock, Mark Trumbo, David Peralta, Cody Ross and Ender Inciarte. Scouts feel that Tomas’ arm is accurate at third base, Passan adds, but are concerned with his lack of lateral quickness and athleticism. Manager Chip Hale told reporters, including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (Twitter links), that Tomas “needs to be better,” but he believes part of the problem is a lack of focus on Tomas’ behalf. It should be noted that the opinion of rival scouts doesn’t mean the D-Backs won’t use Tomas at third; most scouts think there’s no chance that powerful prospect Peter O’Brien can remain at catcher, but the D-Backs believe he can stick at the position so strongly that they forwent adding other catching options outside of Gerald Laird and Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez this offseason.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • The D-Backs announced today that Hernandez was removed from today’s Spring Training game due to soreness in his left wrist (Twitter link). While the team labeled the move precautionary, a significant injury to Hernandez would thin out the team’s paper-thin catching situation even more and could lead to Hernandez being returned to the Rays.
  • Giants right-hander Jake Peavy received interest from at least six other teams before signing his deal to return to San Francisco, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Rangers, Brewers, Twins, Royals, Marlins and Braves all had interest in the 34-year-old veteran, per Heyman, but the bond formed over a World Series victory was too strong to sign elsewhere, Peavy said: “When you’re World Series teammates, it takes you to another level relationship-wise.” The Giants engaged Peavy after missing out on Jon Lester and being spurned by James Shields in December, at a time when Peavy was giving consideration to both Miami and Atlanta.
  • Pablo Sandoval recently said that he felt the Giants disrespected him and agent Gustavo Vasquez when negotiating an extension last spring, but Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the team offered a four-year extension with a vesting option worth just under $85MM in Spring Training 2014. Assuming the $85MM figure includes the vesting option, that’s $10MM and one year less than Sandoval was guaranteed on his five-year, $95MM deal with the Red Sox. It’s possible, however, that Sandoval was turned off by the Giants’ initial conversation-starter, which was said last April to be a three-year, $40MM offer. Evans adds that the Giants’ first offseason offer to Sandoval came the day after the World Series parade, though he didn’t disclose any details on that offer.
  • Heyman also tweets that the Dodgers‘ new front office has been highly impressed by manager Don Mattingly thus far in Spring Training. Mattingly is under contract through the 2016 season, but it’s not uncharacteristic for new-look front offices to bring in a hand-picked manager, regardless of the contractual status of the incumbent.
  • For those who didn’t see, earlier tonight it was reported that the Padres are considering making an offer worth “upwards of $50MM” to Cuban second baseman/third baseman Hector Olivera.

Padres Considering Roughly $50MM Offer For Olivera

The Padres are positioning themselves as a favorite for Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, considering an offer worth upwards of $50MM, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The Braves, A’s and Dodgers remain in the mix for Olivera, per Passan, but Atlanta and Oakland have balked at this level of financial commitment. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have yet to determine whether they want to make an aggressive bid for the 29-year-old Olivera.

As Passan notes, in spite of the high profile acquisitions of first-year GM A.J. Preller this winter, the Padres’ infield is a significant question mark. Scouts believe that Olivera can handle either second or third base, where the team respectively projects to start Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks.

The Padres aggressively pursued fellow Cubans Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Moncada this offseason, with Passan noting that they were so enamored with Moncada that they offered an invite to MLB Spring Training and a chance to win a spot on the Major League roster right out of the gate.

The Dodgers have Howie Kendrick and Juan Uribe slated to play second and third base, respectively, this season, but both are free agents at season’s end. The question in signing Olivera would be where to play him in the interim, as scouts believe that he’s capable of stepping into a Major League lineup almost immediately and providing excellent OBP marks with 15 to 20 home run power.

It’s been a heavy day in terms of Olivera news, with reports indicating that the Padres (along with the Dodgers and Braves) have already performed physicals on Olivera. The Braves are said to have made an offer for Olivera, though based on Passan’s report, it doesn’t seem like their offer is of the same magnitude as the offer currently being weighed by the Padres. Earlier this morning it was also reported that Olivera had fired his previous agents and signed on with Greg Genske of the Legacy Agency.


Injury Notes: Darvish, Minor, Collins, Edgin, Turner, Wieters

There is a silver lining to the Yu Darvish injury for the Rangers, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. In short, if Darvish undergoes a UCL replacement, he will be nearly certain not to trigger any of the award-based opt-out provisions in his contract. Thus, while Texas would lose his services for 2015, they would in all likelihood gain him for 2017 — when, it might be hoped, the team will be in better shape for contention.

We have already seen significant injury news relating to four other pitchers today, and that’s not all:

  • The Braves got a positive update on starter Mike Minor as Dr. James Andrews concurred with club orthopedist Javier Duralde that an MRI showed no structural issues with Minor’s left shoulder, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Minor will nevertheless sit out at least two weeks to rest his arm, and president of baseball operations John Hart says that the team will likely turn to internal options to fill in.
  • Andrews will take a look at another arm tomorrow when Tim Collins of the Royals checks in, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. An MRI has already showed ligament damage to his left elbow. The final determination of whether he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery could have fairly significant ramifications for the club not only this year but into the future, as youngster Brandon Finnegan could be pressed back into relief duty.
  • Another club with a possible LOOGY issue is the Mets, whose top southpaw reliever Josh Edgin will undergo an MRI after experiencing a velocity drop and elbow soreness, as The Record’s Matt Ehalt reports. Missed time from Edgin would figure to pose difficulties given the team’s relative dearth of southpaw depth. As Ehalt explains, Scott Rice is in on a minor league deal and provides an option, while Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin is joined by fellow youngsters Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez on the 40-man roster.
  • Jacob Turner of the Cubs has been shut down with a flexor strain and bone bruise in his right elbow, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers tweets. The out-of-options Turner was probably destined for the Chicago ‘pen after the club claimed him off waivers late last year and picked up his $1MM option for 2015. It would appear that a DL stint will likely be in the cards for the start of the year, which in some ways gives the team more flexibility to give Turner a chance to start during a rehab period.
  • Orioles backstop Matt Wieters is just one week away from getting back behind the dish for a spring game, as Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. Nearing a full return from Tommy John surgery, Wieters has already advanced to throwing to second at as much as 80% in practice. Given the rehab process he has just endured, the free agent-to-be says that his next contract is not where his focus is at present, as Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.

Latest On Hector Olivera: Braves, Dodgers, Padres, Marlins

3:45pm: Olivera’s change in representation has expanded the number of teams that have interest, sources tell MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (Twitter link). Olivera’s previous representatives had been pushing a $70MM figure, which likely ended the interest of several teams before it began. It’s possible that new agent Greg Genske of the Legacy Agency hasn’t been so aggressive in his initial talks with clubs.

3:28pm: The Padres and Dodgers have also done physicals on Olivera, per Badler and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

2:42pm: The Marlins are also interested in Olivera, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Miami is known to like Olivera, though it has not been tied to him much of late — particularly since trading for Dee Gordon and Martin Prado. Though the immediate fit is not clear, Olivera likes the idea of playing in Miami and the team had conversations with his now-former representative, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports.

Atlanta has already done a physical on Olivera, though the team is not alone in that regard, Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets.

8:57am: The message from Braves sources is that Olivera is not a high priority and that the club feels some uncertainty in how his skills will translate in the big leagues, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter links). It remains unclear whether the team is playing coy or Olivera’s camp is pushing Atlanta as a buyer, O’Brien adds.

7:48am: The Braves have made a contract offer to Cuban free agent Hector Olivera, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Reports suggested yesterday that Atlanta was paying plenty of attention to Olivera, though how much the team is willing to spend remains in question.

In the aggregate, it remains unclear whether Atlanta’s rather well-publicized pursuit of Olivera means that the team will challenge at the top of the market for his services or whether it will instead provide only a landing spot if Olivera’s price tag falls. It probably will not take long to find out: Olivera had been expected to sign shortly after being declared a free agent (which occurred late Friday night), and with Opening Day less than a month away will surely not be far off from a decision.

As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained yesterday, Olivera looks to be a near-term fit at second and long-term option at third for Atlanta, which figures to give top prospect Jose Peraza a shot at they keystone before long. The club has dealt away talent this offseason but also brought in several veterans as it attempts to reshape its roster without undergoing a full rebuild.


White Sox, Giants Pursued Heyward; Yankees Also Inquired

11:15am: While the Yankees did indeed ask about Heyward, along with many other teams, the White Sox and Giants were actually the teams that came closest to landing him before St. Louis pulled the trigger, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

That is not necessarily surprising, in the sense that both clubs were obviously in need of corner outfield help. The former ultimately signed Melky Cabrera and the latter added Nori Aoki. While Chicago ought to be set for the foreseeable future in that position, assuming that Avisail Garcia can fix his hold on one corner, San Francisco could be on the market (though it holds a club option over Aoki).

8:11am: The Yankees engaged the Braves this offseason in trade talks regarding outfielder Jason Heyward, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Atlanta ultimately dealt Heyward to the Cardinals, of course.

While the report does not indicate how serious the interest was or whether any actual offers were submitted, it does suggest that the Yankees are a plausible suitor when Heyward hits free agency. The team already has Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Carlos Beltran under contract for 2016, and prospects like Aaron Judge coming up behind them. But New York had a plan to shift Beltran to a DH role if it acquired Heyward, per Martino, and could certainly chart such a course next season.

The other salient takeaway — the item is otherwise largely of historical interest — is that there is increasing evidence that the Yankees are now targeting a certain type of player (young, defensively valuable) that does not quite align with the club’s offseason acquisitions of yore. Indeed, Martino notes that the team also asked the Braves about Andrelton Simmons, although it is far from clear that Atlanta ever engaged on him. New York ultimately traded instead for another fielding-first infielder in Didi Gregorius.