The Los Angeles Dodgers may have acquired an entire new middle infield this off-season, but they aren't standing pat when it comes to adding to their infield depth. On Tuesday, the Dodgers reportedly agreed to a six-year, $62 million deal with Cuban free agent Hector Olivera. The deal was reported by MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. In his report, Sanchez states that Olivera will receive a $28 million signing bonus.
Olivera is the second Cuban free agent infielder to cash-in on a mega-deal this off-season. In February, the Boston Red Sox inked 19-year-old phenom Yoan Moncada. The Dodgers had reportedly been interested in Moncada's services, as well, but the Red Sox ultimately signed him. Unlike Moncada, who is expected to start the year in A-ball, Olivera should be major-league ready once he joins the Dodgers officially. Olivera will turn 30 in early April and has many years of professional experience in the Cuban professional league. He has also been a key member of the Cuban national team in the past.
By all accounts, Olivera is an electric talent who could be an above-average hitter at second or third base. He does come with question-marks, however. In addition to being on the older side for a player making his major league debut, Olivera is surrounded by health concerns. He missed a year (the 2012-2013 season) with a blood disorder and only DH'd during his last year in Cuba. There were also concerns during his workouts for MLB teams that he was nursing a right elbow injury that might require Tommy John surgery. While not nearly as difficult a surgery to recover from for hitters in comparison to pitchers, Tommy John surgery will cost a position player at least nine months in rehab time.
Assuming Olivera is healthy and joins the Dodgers big league roster this season, he will be part of a crowded LA infield. The Dodgers have Juan Uribe at third, Jimmy Rollins at short, Howie Kendrick at second and Adrian Gonzalez at first, with Justin Turner as a back-up. In the outfield, the Dodgers are juggling a rotation of rookie Joc Pederson, Yaisel Puig, Carl Crawford, Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier. Olivera can reportedly play second, third, first and left field, and he could be a super-utility player for the Dodgers in 2015 and then settle in at second or third next season. Both Uribe and Kendrick are free agents this off-season.
Olivera played in plenty of international games from 2007-2011, but he hasn't been part of the Cuban national team in several years because of injury and later his defection. He is a career .323 hitter in the Cuban professional league. The Dodgers were competing against several teams for Olivera's services, including division rival San Diego Padres.