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.

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Nationals acquire Yunel Escobar from Oakland Athletics, send Tyler Clippard

Let’s hope nobody in Oakland bought an Escobar jersey.

The Washington Nationals have reportedly acquired SS Yunel Escobar from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for RHP Tyler Clippard. The deal was first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  Continue reading

Hello, goodbye: Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar sent to Oakland Athletics for John Jaso, prospects

The Rays look confident that the Asdrubal Cabrera era will end well for them. That, or they’re completely out of their minds.

The Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly completed a trade with the Oakland Athletics sending infielders Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Oakland Athletics for catcher John Jaso and two prospects.

The hot stove had surrounded Zobrist for the past few weeks after the Rays signed Cabrera, leaving Tampa with a surplus of one of this offseason’s hottest commodities: infielders.

Last season, the multi-talented Zobrist (who has recorded time at FIVE positions) batted .272/.354/.395 (116 OPS+) with 10 home runs and 52 RBI. Escobar hit .258/.324/.340 (92 OPS+) with 7 home runs and 39 RBI.

The Athletics had recently completed an essential firesale of their infield, sending off Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss, and losing Jed Lowrie to free-agency. With Zobrist and Escobar sliding in, they now have a revamped middle infield, and/or outfield (depending on where the Athletics choose to put Zobrist.)

Potential suitors for the duo had included the Nationals, Mets, Giants and a few others. (According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mets and Nats were actually close to a three team trade that would’ve involved Escobar and Zobrist.)

Over his 9-year career, Zobrist has hit .264/.354/.429 (117 OPS+) with 114 home runs and 511 RBI. Over Escobar’s 8-year career, he has hit .276/.347/.381 (98 OPS+) with 69 home runs and 393 RBI.

In return, the Athletics sent catcher John Jaso and prospects Boog Powell (OF) and Daniel Robertson (SS/3B) to the Rays.

Jaso, who batted .264/.337/.430 (117 OPS+) with 9 home runs and 40 RBI over 307 ABs will become the backup catcher for Tampa Bay. Powell and Robertson were unranked and 4th by Baseball Prospectus heading into 2014, respectively.

Over his 6-year career, Jaso has batted .259/.359/.399 (114 OPS+) with 32 home runs and 182 RBI.