In looking to continue with some of their success in the international free agent market, the Los Angeles Dodgers officially signed Cuban native Hector Olivera to a six-year, $62.5 million contract in mid-May. Just as Los Angeles did in the bidding for Yasiel Puig, they blew away the competition in offers submitted for the 30-year-old infielder.
Of the $62-million contract, $28 million was in the form of a signing bonus. Olivera received $12 million shortly after signing, and is due $7.5 million by Aug. 1 and $8.5 million by Dec. 31. Although some believe the Dodgers had again unnecessarily overspent, team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi raved over Olivera’s bat and offensive potential.
Now some 10 weeks later, Olivera is no longer part of the organization. He was packaged to the Atlanta Braves as part of a complex, 13-player trade that also involved the Miami Marlins. Friedman explained trading Olivera to addressing a need and there being some concern over where he was to fit in with the Dodgers, via Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider:
I wouldn’t say that we thought (Hector Olivera) was expendable. We lined up on something we felt really addressed a current need for us. Friedman did say the Dodgers lost a little bit of confidence in Olivera’s ability to play second base, and that Justin Turner’s emergence had an effect.”
One team’s castaway is another’s gain, however. The Braves were interested in signing Olivera out of Cuba, but were unable to match the Dodgers’ financial power. Braves president of baseball operations Jon Hart spoke highly of Olivera, via Mark Bowman of MLB.com:
We feel like he is in his prime,” Hart said of Olivera. “If this guy was on the open market, he’d be looking at least a five-year deal and it would certainly be a different set of economics.”
Over his 10 seasons in the Cuban professional league Olivera spent the majority of his career at second base. The Dodgers tried him at second and third during his time with the Arizona League Dodgers, Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Along with Justin Turner on the roster, the Dodgers currently have Alberto Callaspo and Alex Guerrero as options at third base. Howie Kendrick has solidified second base and presumably played well enough to warrant overtures from the Dodgers once he becomes a free agent this winter.
Should the Dodgers lose Kendrick in free agency, they now have middle infielder/outfielder Jose Peraza, the Braves’ top prospect, in their farm system. Peraza hit .294/.318/.379 and stole 26 bases in 96 games with Triple-A Gwinnett.