Dodgers, Hector Olivera, agree on six-year deal

Hector Olivera exists, ladies and gentlemen. Hector Olivera is a real, living person. This was proved today when Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com announced that the Los Angeles Dodgers signed the 29-year-old Cuban infielder to a six-year deal worth $62.5 million, including a $28 million signing bonus. (All pending a physical).

The Dodgers completely refurbished their middle infield this offseason, with the additions of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, and already boasted two of the best corner infielders in the game in Juan Uribe and Adrian Gonzalez. However, considering that Uribe and Kendrick both hit free agency this year, Olivera can fill in at any position for the next year or even compete for a starting job, or provide more depth in the outfield, which is already a heavily contested area. He’ll take the full-time job provided either Kendrick or Uribe leaves. Los Angeles is known to shop in the Cuban market (Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero, Pablo Fernandez), but this is the most expensive signing they’ve ever completed.

The most interesting part of the situation is what it took to get Olivera to the Major Leagues. It was first reported that he had torn his UCL, and there were rumors that he would shoot a video showing that he was fully able to throw and was at his full ability. He then decided to switch agents in the middle of the process, putting many conversations to a halt, and then finally switching agents. Throughout that entire process, he fielded offers worth $30 million to over $70 million over durations of four to seven years. He signed with the Dodgers after seeing interest from the Marlins, Braves, Giants, Yankees However, the deal does have a clause in it that protects the Dodgers if Olivera’s UCL is in fact problematic; Los Angeles would gain a seventh season of Olivera’s work for a mere $1 million if Olivera needs UCL reconstruction surgery.

There are still questions remaining – Olivera missed over one season in Cuba with a blood clot in his arm and played DH for the majority of the 2013 season, which left some scouts concerned. He also still needs to obtain a visa and will still need time in the minor leagues.

Last season, in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he hit .316/.412/.474 with 7 home runs and 38 RBI over 273 plate appearances. Over his 10-year career in Cuba, he hit .323/.407/.505 with 96 home runs and 433 RBI.

Yoan Moncada, Red Sox, agree to deal

The Red Sox aren’t exactly facing an infielder deficit. This morning, they added depth to what already looks like the best infield in the AL, as Boston reportedly came to terms with 19-year-old Cuban propsect Yoan Moncada on a deal with a signing bonus of $31.5 million. The deal was first reported by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.

The Red Sox have reportedly had their eye on Moncada for a while now. His stats are impressive – over two seasons, he batted .277/.388/.380 with 4 home runs and 28 RBI over 367 plate appearances. What others have seen personally is apparently more impressive. A NL executive described him to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN as a “younger Robinson Cano type with more speed and versatility”.   The Red Sox don’t exactly have an opening for the young five-tool phenom (although his tools supposedly could transfer into the outfield) but a bench opportunity or a fill-in job for an injured starter is bound to show up at some point. Moncada is expected to start the season in the minor leagues – the stay is unlikely to be long.

The Cuban market is not a new frontier for Boston ( they signed CF Runey Castillo to a $72.5 million dollar deal in August of 2014.), but the deal was surprising to some, as many expected the New York Yankees to swoop in and find their replacement for Derek Jeter.  For once, though, the Yankees weren’t willing to spend as much money as others were. “”He’s got a lot of ability and projects to be a quality player,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “I don’t think anybody disagrees with the ability. I would doubt there’s any disagreement on the scouting assessment of the player. It just comes down to how much money you were willing to commit.”

Other teams that had scouted Moncada or watched a workout included the Cubs, Rangers, Padres, Giants, Tigers, Braves, Brewers, Rays and Angels.

The deal is not finished, but is expected to be done soon. The Red Sox will attempt to get him to Fort Myers, FL for Spring Training immediately, but it is still to be seen how they will execute that plan.