Add the name Hector Olivera to the quickly growing list of Cuban baseball sensations making their way to the Major Leagues at mind-blowing prices this upcoming season.
As many as five teams are chasing the 29-year-old infielder, who’s been called a better prospect than the Arizona Diamondbacks’ slugger Yasmany Tomas and the highly touted 19-year-old Yoan Moncada.
Earlier this week Fox Sports confirmed prominent Cuban baseball author Peter Bjarkman’s report that tabbed the Los Angeles Dodgers as Olivera’s final destination once he’s been cleared by new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
MLB.com’s Peter Gammons tweeted Tuesday that five teams are offering $70 million for Olivera, a figure that would top the $68.5 million Arizona agreed to give Tomas in November, and fall just below the record $72.5 million the Boston Red Sox gave to outfielder Rusney Castillo last summer.
No deal is imminent just yet, with the Oakland Athletics also in pursuit, but the seasoned Serie Nacional slugger figures to join a long line of Cuban nationals to make their way to Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles struck gold with outfield Yasiel Puig, and also landed middle infielders Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena over the last few years. While Puig has provided plenty of spark to the Dodgers lineup, Guerrero and Arruebarrena combined for just 54 at-bats in 2014.
Where Olivera plays could be a bit a problem for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, with Adrian Gonzalez, Juan Uribe and the recently acquired Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins already covering the infield.
However, third base could be Olivera’s spot on the field and Mattingly will certainly find room in the lineup for a versatile and powerful hitter who hit .323 over 10 seasons in Cuba.
The Dodgers also join the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres and maybe the Milwaukee Brewers on the hot trail of Moncada, who’s reportedly finished his private workouts and has entered the “contract phase” in his journey to the majors, his agent said to CBS Sports.
Another infielder with explosive power, Moncada could demand a significant pay day in the $12 million to $50 million range, according to CBS. The gap could increase or tighten depending on how quickly Moncada can ascend to the majors.
Already powerfully built at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Moncada has garnered comparisons to Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper but will use his length in the infield, either at second or third base.
In 2012 and 2013 combined with Cienfuegos, Moncada hit .277 with four home runs, 11 doubles, four triples and 28 RBIs.
Several reports indicate Moncada left Cuba sometime in 2014, with Baseball America stating his whereabouts were unknown last summer but that he was likely out of Cuba. The scouting site also said he’s technically a better prospect than Castillo.