There are varying reports about the visa status of Dodgers signees Hector Olivera and Pablo Fernandez. Several reporters say the pair have received their work visas and are en route to the United States to begin their careers. (Baseball Essential’s Robert Murray reports that Olivera had his visa, and Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets that Fernandez had secured his.) However, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets that it still remains unclear when the visas will be obtained. The Dodgers spent a combined $70.5MM on the pair, with $62.5MM of that coming in the form of a six-year, Major League contract for Olivera. It’s not clear which to which minor league affiliate either would report. As Murray notes, Olivera still needs to take his physical, which could potentially reveal significant damage in his right elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament. If that is indeed the case, and extra year will be added to Olivera’s contract at the price of just $1MM.
Elsewhere in the Senior Circuit’s Western division…
- The Diamondbacks have reached out to prep catcher Taylor Stephenson, prep outfielders Daz Cameron and Garrett Whitley and other high school prospects about potential under-slot deals with the first overall pick in the draft, reports Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel (All links to McDaniel’s Twitter). The industry belief, however, is that the D-Backs are still leaning toward a college player at 1-1 and are using this method to determine potential over-slot targets with the Nos. 43 and 76 picks in the draft. The Diamondbacks are in line to save between $2.5MM and $5MM on the first pick, which comes with an $8.6169MM slot value, per McDaniel, which would allow them to call players that are on the board in the mid-first round and inform them they’re able to offer significantly above slot later in the draft. This type of incident happened multiple times in the 2014 draft, McDaniel adds.
- If the Rockies do ultimately decide to trade Troy Tulowitzki this summer or in the offseason, the resurgence of former prospect Trevor Story has given them a viable internal replacement, Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs argues. Mitchell notes that Story’s prospect status took a nosedive when his strikeouts became unmanageable and his overall offensive results suffered as a result. However, he’s striking out at his lowest rate since 2012 thus far, and he’s also showing considerably better power than he did during his swift decline. Mitchell uses his own projection system and likens Story’s production to seasons of previous minor league shortstops and finds a number of potentially favorable comparables, including Eugenio Suarez and Trevor Plouffe. He notes that Story isn’t likely to develop into an above-average Major League hitter in spite of the turnaround, but shortstops needn’t be plus hitters as long as they can handle their own from a defensive standpoint, which Story seems capable of doing. A league-average bat at shortstop is indeed a valuable commodity, and of course, Story’s extra time at Coors Field would surely bolster his numbers, even if park-adjusted metrics like wRC+ and OPS+ painted him in a less favorable light.