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Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors
- The Dodgers have requested a second MRI on Hector Olivera‘s elbow, and the infielder’s camp has reportedly initially declined to provide it, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Heyman speculates that Los Angeles could prefer to have an MRI performed by its own team doctor rather than rely on the first exam, which was taken in the Dominican.
- The amount of 2B/3B depth on the Dodgers‘ roster makes them an odd suitor for Olivera, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron opines. Rather than sign Olivera to a big contract, the Dodgers could just stick with what Cameron believes is a pretty comparable player in Justin Turner — Olivera projects to have more power, though Turner brings fewer injury risks.
- In Olivera news from earlier today on MLBTR, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported that the Marlins had pulled back a seven-year, $53MM offer to Olivera after being told that the Dodgers had offered a $77MM deal. According to a poll of MLBTR readers, the Padres and Braves are seen as co-favorites to land Olivera, with both clubs garnering just under 25% of the vote and separates by just a few votes at the time of this post.
- Right-hander Yadier Alvarez has filed paperwork with Major League Baseball and is officially petitioning to become a free agent, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (Twitter link). The 19-year-old has already established a residence in Haiti and is also pursuing a waiver that would allow him to ink a deal before the current international signing period ends.
- Yoan Lopez is hoping to make the majors “muy pronto,” and told Jack Magruder of Baseball America (via an interpreter) that one of the reasons he chose to sign with the Diamondbacks was because they offered a better opportunity at a quick rise through the minors.
The Marlins recently made a seven-year, $53MM offer to Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, but “backed away after hearing” that the Dodgers had a significantly higher bid, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter links). According to the report, the Miami offer was made prior to Olivera’s recent agency change.
The report suggests that Olivera’s prior representatives led the Marlins to believe that the Dodgers were offering $77MM, with the Padres at $52MM and the Braves at $44MM. Given the switch in representation that has occurred and the industry scuttlebutt surrounding it — to say nothing of the fact that Olivera remains unsigned — it is far from clear that such offers were actually made.
Miami is still said to be comfortable paying Olivera in the $50MM range, so it would appear that the team’s interest is still live. And other reports have suggested that San Diego and Atlanta are likely also interested at or just below that level. The key question seemingly remains whether the Dodgers are willing to go above the other bidders, and if so by how much.
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).
- Giants — Joe 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.
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.”
- As has been reported, Chris Young‘s contract with the Royals has a $675K base and can reach $6MM via incentives. Per Heyman, Young has $1MM available in roster bonuses, $2.25MM available for games started (capping at 29 starts) and $2.075MM available for total innings pitched (which run up to 140 innings).
- Everth Cabrera‘s deal with the Orioles, which pays him $2.4MM and can reach $3MM in total, awards him $75K for reaching each of 250, 300, 350, 400, 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances, according to Heyman.
- Dustin McGowan signed a Major League deal with the Dodgers that guarantees him just the MLB minimum ($507.5K), but per Heyman, he’ll receive a $1MM roster bonus for spending as little as one day on the active roster. As was previously reported, he can earn $1.5MM worth of incentives via appearances and innings pitched, maxing out at 60 appearances and 60 innings.
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.
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.
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.
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.