New Cuban Infield Option for Padres?


While Yoan Moncada is the next Cuban defector under the limelight, there is another name you should know: Hector Olivera.  He will be, according to Baseball America, the second best Cuban player to hit the major league market.  With A.J. Preller in on…well…everybody, would Olivera be a fit in San Diego?

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Olivera appears to be like Jedd Gyorko mixed with Yasmany Tomas.  He is scouted as being a second basemen first, though he could move over to the hot corner if necessary.  That says, to me, that he doesn’t have the best range, but is athletic to get the job done.  In the 2013-14 Cuban baseball season, he played 90 games at DH and only 29 at second base.

It’s unknown whether his play at DH was because of poor defense or health-related problems.  A blood disorder knocked out Olivera’s 2012-13 season.  The disorder, according to Baseball America, caused a blood clot in his bicep.  If that is the case, then it shouldn’t be a permanent hindrance on Olivera.

Regardless, when he returned to the playing field, he hit well, very well.  In his 2013-14 season he hit .316/.412/.474/.886, which was slightly better than Yasmany Tomas.  In the years before his health problems, Olivera consistently had a .400+ OBP and a .530+ slugging.  Unlike Tomas, he was quite consistent.  He has displayed a fabulous ability to draw walks.  And for a second basemen, he has excellent power – as in he hit for a .626 slugging in the season before his blood clot.  For some context, a .626 slugging would have lead all of MLB and been a 40-HR season.  Now, he did play in a league that isn’t on he level of MLB (obviously)?  That season was before the health problem.  But!  Olivera is clearly talented and clearly an offensive weapon.

Being that he will turn 30 in April and his health problems, he will likely be a cheaper sign than Tomas, despite the fact that his consistency adds a layer of security to the team that signs him increasing his value.  While a player with those numbers at the plate is likely a valuable player, I’m not sure he would be the best fit in San Diego.  Frankly, the Padres’ defense may be one of the worst in baseball next season.  Do the Padres really need a guy who played mostly DH in Cuba?  But I’ll tell you this: if Preller signed him, I wouldn’t be upset in the slightest.  Olivera slotted in at third base would definitely be an upgrade at the (likely) expense of defense, especially if Will Middlebrooks continues to struggle as he has over the past two seasons in Boston.