The Hector Olivera Situation Is Getting Out Of Control

Today in “as the Hector Olivera turns,” the worst new soap opera of the 2015 season:

First things, first, obviously: Though Spencer is respected, this report is based on a team “hearing” something, per a “source.” That doesn’t make it false. That also doesn’t in the least make it true, and that the Dodgers may be outbidding everyone by $25 million doesn’t exactly pass the sniff test for me.

Dodgers @
Padres
Peoria, Ariz.
SS
Rollins
LF
Crawford
RF
Puig
1B
Gonzalez
2B
Kendrick
CF
Ethier
3B
Uribe
C
Ellis
DH
Pederson
P
Ryu

There’s also the enormous open questions of what is even going on with the player, money aside. As FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel recapped over the weekend:

Yahoo is reporting Olivera has UCL damage that may require Tommy John surgery, which Olivera’s camp is denying. While whether Olivera has UCL damage is a black-and-white issue, there are still plenty of gray areas left for teams to wade through, including the UCL question itself.

First, some background: Olivera hasn’t played in a competitive game in awhile, hasn’t played in the field on even a part-time basis in years, and hasn’t played an international game (the only games that MLB teams can scout Cubans in person) in years. He has a blood disorder that knocked him out of game action for over a year, turns 30 next month and was noticeably fatigued in some private workouts for clubs, which were all scheduled with plenty of downtime between so he could recover.

…and he ends with:

Three or four years at $10-12 million per year with some of that money in incentives and maybe with an option is just a bit north of what I predicted last month, but I’m having trouble seeing any team that can top that offer if it comes from Los Angeles. If this ends up going well over $50 million, the sources I’ve talked to would be very surprised and so would I.

I’m biased because I work for FanGraphs, but it’s not controversial to say that Kiley is an incredibly respected name in the prospect world. He’s plugged in. Not that Spencer isn’t, but those two reports conflict with one another terribly. Also not included in those quotes: Olivera recently fired his agent, and Spencer reports that the offers were made to his old agents. That doesn’t make them sound any more real, because why would Olivera fire a representative who’d really made those offers happen?

There’s also this: As I said early this morning, this delay has gone on for so long that even if Olivera were to sign today, there’s no shot of him being on an Opening Day roster. He’d need weeks, at a minimum, in the minors, and maybe months. On a Dodger team that’s already set for 2015 in the infield, there’s just no real need for him this season unless someone gets injured.

Now, you can make the very valid point that Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, and Juan Uribe are all free agents following the season, and the infield needs to be rebuilt even if — still an ifCorey Seager is ready in 2016, so this would be a long-term play, lest you plan on a 2016 non-first base infield of Seager, Justin Turner, Alex Guerrero, Enrique Hernandez, and Erisbel Arruebarrena. (Which… would that be awful?. Maybe.)

But remember, Olivera isn’t like the other big-money Cubans we’ve seen lately, guys like Yasmany Tomas or Yoan Moncada, who are in their early 20s with room to grow. Olivera turns 30 in a few weeks. If, because of lack of playing time or the need to shake off rust, you don’t get much from him in 2015, then you’re banking on value starting in his age-31 season — to say nothing of the reported health issues.

It’s not that I don’t want Olivera. Talent is talent, right? If the money doesn’t matter to the Dodgers and you can splurge on another safety net for if and when Uribe gets injured, wonderful. But the need hardly seems urgent enough to go so above and beyond, financially, for an older player with a ton of question marks. A contending team with infield holes right now — Toronto, Anaheim, perhaps. The Dodgers? It’s kind of hard to see them being so desperate to overpay by so much. If that report is even valid, of course.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.