The Dodgers have won the latest sweepstakes for a Cuban star. According to a report from MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, the team has reached agreement on a six-year, $62.5 million deal with infielder Hector Olivera that includes a $28 million signing bonus.
Olivera, who turns 30 in April, drew significant interest from multiple teams on the open market, with the Padres, Braves, Athletics and Marlins being in the mix throughout the process. His stint as a free agent was a long and strenuous one, with reports surfacing about a damaged UCL in his throwing arm as well as the decision to change agents in the middle of negotiations.
Olivera seems to be a solid fit for the Dodgers' 2016 roster, as his ability to play both second base and third base makes him an ideal candidate to replace either Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe, who are both slated to become free agents after the season. He will likely spend at least part of this season getting completely healthy in the minor leagues and adjusting to life in the United States before joining Los Angeles' major-league club.
Olivera is the second Cuban prospect to sign with the Dodgers this week, joining pitcher Pedro Millan Fernandez, who agreed to an $8 million signing bonus earlier in the week.
In ten seasons playing in Cuba's Serie Nacional, Olivera has hit .323/.407/.505 with 96 home runs and 433 RBI in 642 games. Baseball America's Ben Badler ranked Olivera as the sixth best Cuban prospect last August, and gave a detailed scouting report on what to expect from the mysterious 29-year old:
At around 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Olivera is a physical righthanded hitter with a loose, quick swing and a good hitting approach. He showed good power for a middle infielder, and given that several Cuban players have transformed their bodies and increased their power since leaving the island, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Olivera did the same. His size, athleticism and plus speed (at least at his peak) made him one of the most well-rounded players in Cuba.