San Diego had interest in Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Moncada, but after losing out on the latest Cuban prospects, may be close to landing another. According to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, the Padres are "positioning themselves" as the favorite to sign Cuban infielder Hector Olivera.
Although the club had a notably active offseason and increased its payroll, Passan notes the Padres reportedly made Olivera an offer worth more than $50 million. General Manager A.J. Preller has sought to upgrade the roster this offseason, and has added a handful of major league pieces with the intention of competing in the National League West in 2015. James Shields, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Derrek Norris were all added this winter, however the Padres are still not satisfied with their infield depth. Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks are expected to start at second and third base, respectively, for the Padres.
Olivera, who has experience playing all four infield spots, may not necessarily provide the Padres with the infield stability they need because of his health. A blood clot in his non-throwing left arm has led to skepticism on the part of some major league scouts, with the status of his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm unclear.
When he first became a free agent, Olivera initially sought a $70 million deal. However, after major league teams were hesitant to offer a contract in that range because of the state of his health, Olivera fired agents Rudy Santin and Manny Paula on Monday night. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported that since Olivera hired Greg Genske of Legacy Agency, he has received a notable amount of interest from a handful of teams.
Both the Dodgers and the Padres have done physicals on Olivera, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The Dodgers will likely be the wild card to land Olivera, although signing him could be logical with regard to the club's future plans. Juan Uribe will be a free agent after the season, creating a need for a third baseman. Cory Seager could be developed as a third baseman, though, allowing Los Angeles to attempt to sign Ian Desmond, who has not made significant progress on a possible extension with the Nationals.
Atlanta has remained interested and made an offer to Olivera, however the Braves have yet to decide if he can have success at the major league level. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the Braves are not considering signing Olivera a "high priority," and that while he was impressive during his workout, there are questions with regard to how he will adjust to major league pitching.
Miami may not be willing to spend over $70 million on Olivera, although according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the club remains interested. Unlike the Braves, the Marlins feel Olivera could adjust and thrive at the major league level immediately, and could play several infield positions if he signs with Miami.
The team that signs Olivera would ideally like to have him report to camp as soon a possible. While the Padres are the early favorite, larger market teams could get involved in the coming days.