Hector Olivera has four to six offers in hand
Free-agent Rumors are few and far between at this late stage of the offseason. Those that still occasionally light up the hot stove almost exclusively revolve around Cuban infielder Hector Olivera.
Amid word of a possible $50 million contract, we heard from Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan last week that some teams were concerned about a torn UCL in Olivera’s right elbow. But that news came and went, and multiple clubs remained interested, so it was safe to assume that the ailment wasn’t as serious as Passan’s sources suggested it might be.
Then, Olivera put himself back in Passan’s timeline, this time by dumping his original agent, Rudy Santin, in favor of Greg Genske. Soon, the positive news—news of $50 million proposals and widespread interest—had fully drowned out the concerns about the 29-year-old’s elbow.
And that’s where we are now. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, who broke Yoan Moncada’s signing with the Red Sox earlier this offseason, heard yesterday that up to a half-dozen clubs are speaking with Genske. Specifically, Sanchez identified the A’s, Braves, Dodgers, Giants, and Marlins as teams with “strong interest” in Olivera, noting that he could put pen to paper with one of them by the end of the week.
If Olivera is to play at the keystone, the Braves would seem to offer the clearest path to a starting job, though the A’s could move Ben Zobrist into an outfield role. The Dodgers and Marlins found their second sackers within hours of each other, the latter by acquiring Dee Gordon from the former, which subsequently flipped pitching prospect Andrew Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. Up in San Francisco, the Giants appear poised to hand the keystone keys to Joe Panik long term.
Moving Olivera to third would require greater confidence in his arm, and the opportunities among those five clubs are not much clearer. The Dodgers have Juan Uribe. The A’s and Giants traded for Casey McGehee and Brett Lawrie, respectively. And the Marlins supplanted McGehee by getting Martin Prado from the Yankees. Here again, the Braves—who failed to unload Chris Johnson’s contract this offseason—might be the most obvious fit.
Mystery team made a run at Max Scherzer
The top starting pitcher on the past offseason’s free agent market, Max Scherzer waited patiently and wound up a happy camper with a seven-year, $210 million contract from the Nationals. But on Wednesday, the right-hander added a little fuel to the fire for those wondering where else he might’ve landed.
Scherzer told reporters, including James Schmehl of MLive Media Group, that a mystery team stuck around through the process, before ultimately coming up short. The one club Scherzer ruled out was his previous employer, the Tigers, from whom he rejected an extension offer before the 2014 season.
Roughly a dozen teams were connected to the 30-year-old Scherzer between the beginning of free agency and January 21st, when he signed with Washington. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman first indicated the presence of a second suitor, besides the Nats, that was willing to pay the 2013 AL Young Award winner through 2021. Three days later, Scherzer settled on his new home.
Dodgers like what they see from Corey Seager at shortstop
Shortstops don’t often tower over their position-playing teammates. In fact, Jimmy Rollins, who’s taking over at the six spot for the Dodgers in 2015, is the club’s shortest player at 5-foot-8. Rollins is something of an exception in that regard, but the top prospect who might fill his shoes in a year would buck the desired height range at the toughest infield position to an even greater degree.
Corey Seager is 6-foot-4. According to the Baseball-Reference Play Index, there have only been 13 recorded player-seasons of 120 or more games by shortstops of equal or greater height since 1901. All of them belong to Cal Ripken Jr., who finished his career at third base, where Seager is eventually expected to land.
The question is how long the Dodgers will be able to enjoy Seager’s exceptionally promising bat at a position where his offensive contributions could pace the league. Good hands and an easy plus arm—strengths that Nick J. Faleris identified when he ranked Seager as the no. 1 prospect in the organization—offset the doubts surrounding his height, and so does his “ability to make [the] most out of limited range.” Right now, that’s enough to make the overall package more valuable at short. But will it be two years before Seager shifts to the hot corner? Three? Five? More?
ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted, presumably citing conversations with team sources, that the Dodgers are increasingly confident Seager can stay at short well into his major-league career. He’ll only turn 21 on April 27th, so there’s no reason for the Dodgers to rush their best minor-league asset, either to the majors or away from his current position.
With Rollins’ contract set to expire at year’s end, Seager—who’s getting a taste of big-league pitching in Cactus League play—should be ready to step in. He’ll be hard pressed to rival Ripken’s 13-year run, but if the Dodgers’ evaluations prove accurate, Seager might come closer to that record than most think.
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