It’s weird, I think, to learn that your favorite team just dropped $62.5 million over six years on a Cuban infielder, as the Dodgers just reportedly did with Hector Olivera, and go… “oh. okay.”
It’s not that I can say for sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, because so much of what we know or think we know has been shrouded in mystery. There’s no such thing as too much talent, and the Dodgers still haven’t seemed to hit that mystical payroll limit — if it even exists — and we know that three-fourths of the infield (Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Juan Uribe) are eligible for free agency following 2015. We know that Uribe is fragile and Justin Turner is both likely to regress and shouldn’t be an every day player. If the worst that happens here is that Olivera is a bust and they threw a ton of money away, well, this team can handle that more than most.
It’s just, well, I don’t know. Maybe I’m a little worried about the repeated whispers about the health of his elbow or the reported circulatory (or blood dyscrasia, which sounds horrifying) condition. Maybe it’s troubling that as he’s about to turn 30, there’s not time for growth if there’s early struggles, and any time needed for him to adapt or get up to speed — time we should absolutely not deny a man coming to America from Cuba — comes out of his remaining peak. Maybe it’s that this is basically the same amount of money Boston gave the far younger Yoan Moncada, who is seen as a vastly superior prospect*. Maybe it’s that the less-than-expected contributions of Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena have taken some of the pop out of another unknown Cuban infielder, which is totally unfair.
Maybe, most likely, it’s just fatigue from this never-ending “will he or won’t he” process that’s gone on, seemingly, for years.
*A note on Moncada: Simply comparing the dollars misses the point, because the Red Sox are unable to participate (for more than $300,000) in the next two years of international signings. Because of Olivera’s age, that penalty does not apply to the Dodgers. This money goes all to the luxury tax, which the Dodgers blew past eons ago.
Maybe that last part should get me more excited, particularly when I see things like this from the well-respected Kiley McDaniel:
Like w/Fernandez, smart for LA to use their $ when other teams are limited by timing. Olivera should be everyday 3B https://t.co/FoQpx0gVpY
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) March 24, 2015
Dustin’s written a ton on Olivera, and the immediate questions I’m seeing already are, “where does he fit,” and “what happens to Guerrero / Turner?” Those are, indeed, questions, and the answer to both is “stop asking, because it doesn’t matter,” not for now, anyway. Opening Day is less than two weeks away, and it could take that long or longer for all of the paperwork to get sorted out here. Olivera almost certainly is going to spend weeks or months in the minor leagues, given the way this has played out, and absolutely no one knows what will have happened on the major league roster by then.
When the paperwork is finalized, someone’s going to lose their 40-man spot, and that could get interesting given that Sergio Santos or another NRI probably makes the roster too, but Guerrero isn’t simply getting DFA’d, not the way he’s hit. (This can’t be good news for Darwin Barney, incidentally.)
It’s worth noting that the third base market in free agency next winter is a hot pile of garbage, and it would be malpractice to expect either Turner or Guerrero to simply step in full-time. Olivera, based on reports, could be that player, since his future sounds far more likely at third than second. Whether or not Olivera supplants Uribe this year — and as much as we all love Uribe now, let’s not pretend that he’s suddenly getting more durable as he ages — Olivera is at least around, and he’s going to be around. That’s better than not being around, especially if and when injuries come up, and it only cost burnable, disposable money to do it.
The lesson here, as always: Sweet Jesus, is it good to be rich, because you can easily do “ah, screw it, why not” deals like this. Welcome aboard, Hector. I’m not sure how to feel about you. I’m also sure that the more talent you can collect at once, the better.