The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to sign Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
The pact is over six seasons and is worth $62.5 million, which includes a $28 million signing bonus, per Sanchez. The deal is still pending a physical. The highly regarded Olivera is now represented by Greg Genske of the Legacy Agency after making a switch during the negotiations process.
One interesting note about the deal is that it includes a special clause, similar to the of John Lackey's injury clause in his free agent deal with the Red Sox. According to Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors, if Olivera needs Tommy John surgery at all during the course of the contract, the Dodgers would pick up a seventh season of control at $1 million. There have recently been concerns about the health of his elbow, which definitely came into play during the negotiations process.
Olivera was coveted by the Padres, Athletics, and Braves over the course of his free agency, but the sixth-year the Dodgers offered was likely the difference between them and the rest of the pack. While the Padres were considered a "finalist" for Olivera at points through the process, Murray reports that they never made a formal offer to Olivera's agents at the Legacy Agency.
The Dodgers look quite loaded at Olivera's main positions--second and third base--but dig a little deeper and the deal makes a ton of sense. Current second baseman Howie Kendrick and current third baseman Juan Uribe are scheduled to hit the open market at the end of the season.
Olivera isn't expected to be with the Dodgers until about May due to visa issues and perhaps a month of seasoning in the minor leagues, but that shouldn't be an issue for them, as they do have a solid infield all around the horn. The signing of Olivera certainly was not for this year, it was for the years to come, when Kendrick, Uribe, and company are all playing elsewhere.
The Dodgers are usually big in the international free agent market, signing the likes of Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero, and Erisbel Arruebarrena out of Cuba. While only Puig has made notable big league production, the Dodgers continue to play a big role in the signing of international free agents, especially those who do not count against their allotted international bonuses. In other words, they are looking for guys that have already played in the Cuba professional leagues for at least a few seasons.
The 29-year-old Olivera is just that. He played 10 seasons with the Santiago de Cuba in the Cuban National Series. Olivera has slashed a career .323/.407/.505 and has a lot of raw power. MLB scouts were very impressed with Olivera's right-handed hitting, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America, and especially with his ability to contribute right away.