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.
The Minnesota Twins announced the signing of second baseman Brian Dozier to a four-year extension today.
The extension is worth $20 million, with Dozier earning $2 million this season, $3 million in 2016, $6 million in 2017, and $9 million in 2018. The deal does not include any no-trade clauses, the Twins noted during their press conference today.
Dozier was projected to be a free agent following the 2018 season regardless, so this extension just buys out his arbitration seasons. He comes into 2015 with two-years, 100 days of service time, and wasn't projected to reach arbitration until next year.
The 27-year-old Dozier continues to play solid in the middle of the Twins lineup, hitting .242/.345/.416 over 707 plate appearances last season, swiping 21 bags and hitting 23 home runs. Dozier was worth 4.8 fWAR last season, good for fifth in the American League, trailing just Ben Zobrist, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, and Jose Altuve.
The Twins acquired Dozier via the First Player Draft, selecting him in the 8th round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Southern Mississippi. He broke into the big leagues as a shortstop in 2012, but since 2013, he has been their second baseman.
As for his agents at All Bases Covered Sports Management, they did fairly well as compared to other extensions of second basemen between 2-3 years of service. Most recent was Jason Kipnis, who signed a six-year, $52 million deal and Matt Carpenter, who signed a six-year, $52 million pact as well. Both these deals come with more money than Dozier's, but also bought out free agent years.
Here's the latest on a couple of extensions that happened last week:
The New York Mets announced on Monday that MRI results showed that right-hander Zack Wheeler has torn the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.
Wheeler will seek a second opinion, but it seems that Tommy John surgery is likely and unavoidable.
If he does opt for the surgery, Wheeler will be the 12th professional pitcher in affiliated ball to have Tommy John since the beginning of last offseason, the third of which pitches for the Mets. New York experienced bad news yesterday as well, when reports said that lefty reliever Josh Edgin would be having Tommy John surgery as well.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for Major League pitchers with elbow troubles, as Brandon Cumpton, Yu Darvish, and Joel Hanrahan are among the pitchers who have either had the surgery or will be having the surgery to repair their respective UCLs since breaking camp. The Tommy John "epidemic," as some like to call it, has been a serious issue in the Major and Minor Leagues, as 103 affiliated pitchers have had the surgery since New Year's Day of 2014.
For the Mets, the loss of their young ace will be big. Since making his big league debut on June 18, 2013, Wheeler is 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA (3.77 FIP) in 285 1/3 innings over 49 starts. He has a 2.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Wheeler has made one start thus far this Spring, allowing six runs over 1 2/3 innings of work against the Marlins. He was scratched from Saturday's start with a "tender" right elbow.
Dillon Gee, who was a trade candidate for the Mets, will now get a spot with the team's starting pitchers. New York's 2015 rotation now looks like this: Matt Harvey, who just came back from the Tommy John procedure; Jacob deGrom; Jonathan Niese; Bartolo Colon; and Gee. The loss of Wheeler will be a crushing blow to a team that was looking to take a big step forward this season with the three-headed monster at the top of their pitching staff.