Yoan Moncada is the latest buzz since being cleared to sign as a free agent, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are not only among the teams interested, but are considered by some the favorite to sign the 19-year-old infielder.
While Moncada has drawn plenty of attention in recent weeks, Hector Olivera is another Cuban infielder that’s garnering interest. On the heels of Peter Gammons reporting the Dodgers are focused on Moncada and Olivera as opposed to Shields, they sent a contingent to scout Olivera at an open showcase game in the Dominican Republic, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America:
Of all the teams at the showcase today, the Dodgers had the most notable presence. Dodgers vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes, VP of amateur and international scouting David Finley and director of player personnel Galen Carr were all there.
With the Dodgers and other teams there to watch him, Olivera hit two home runs while playing second and third base. In portions of 10 seasons playing for Santiago de Cuba, Olivera is a career .323/.407/.505 with 96 home runs and 433 RBIs. During the 2013-2014 season, he hit .316/.412/.474 along with seven home runs and 38 RBIs.
At 29 years old and with more than five years of experience in the Cuban professional league, the Dodgers aren’t subject to the same penalty tax and two-year probation period that comes with signing Moncada.
Given that the Dodgers aren’t bound to the same signing rules for Olivera, they conceivably could land both Cuban infielders within the next few weeks. Olivera is still awaiting clearance by MLB, which is considered a formality. Whereas Moncada was officially declared a free agent on Tuesday and is looking to quickly sign with a team.
Should the Dodgers manage to strike gold with both Cuban prospects, their infield would be in good hands moving forward when also taking into account Corey Seager’s forthcoming arrival in the Majors.