The Los Angeles Dodgers officially signed Cuban defectors Hector Olivera and Pablo Milan Fernandez Tuesday, adding them to an organization that already has a number of Cuban natives. Olivera mentioned that as a factor in deciding which team to sign with as an international free agent.
While there was plenty of off-the-field news, the Dodgers traveled north and suffered another defeat at the hands of the San Francisco Giants. Alex Guerrero started at third base and went 2-for-4. Following the loss he provided a scouting report on Olivera, via ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
Guerrero said he has known Olivera for years. They were two of the best second basemen in the Cuban league before they both left their country and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. “He’s a good hitter, hits for average. I would say he should hit 12 to 18 home runs a year, in that range. He’s versatile. Fast,” Guerrero said in Spanish. Fast, like Yasiel Puig fast? “No,” Guerrero said. “Less so.”
For his part, Olivera also didn’t compare himself to Yasiel Puig during a conference call Tuesday night. “I play hard but relaxed,” he answered through a translator when asked if his style of play was along the lines of Guerrero’s or Puig’s.
When asked if Olivera is capable of playing third base, the position he’s been rumored and expected to play for the Dodgers, Guerrero didn’t offer a conclusive answer:
We’ll have to see,” Guerrero said. “I think he’s a very versatile ball player, but we’d have to see him here at the major league level. It’s different.”
Olivera has been sent to Camelback Ranch, where Dodgers of president baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he’s expected to remain for one week. After that, the 30-year-old infielder will be sent to High-A Rancho Cucamonga and eventually Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Friedman added he believes Olivera is capable of contributing in the Majors this season, which will certainly make for an interesting situation as the Dodgers would presumably have a surplus of infielders.
There’s a school of thought one of them eventually will be included as part of a trade to net a starting pitcher. Ironically, Guerrero’s name is reportedly one to have already garnered interest. He’s making $4 million this season and is owed $5 million in each of the next two years.
However, included in Guerrero’s contract is a clause which allows him to opt out of his deal at the end of the season in which he is traded. It’s unlikely Justin Turner would be moved as he’s been a key player for the Dodgers and is under team control. Juan Uribe, whose playing time has significantly decreased, is in the final year of his deal.
Scott Van Slyke On Walk-Off Home Run And Playing Time