Cuban infielder Hector Olivera will have an open showcase for Major League Baseball teams on January 21st and 22nd in the Dominican Republic, according to Baseball America. Olivera is described as a 6’ 2’’ 220-pound second baseman/designated hitter who had a .316/.412/.474 slash in the Cuban league during the 2013-2014 season.
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It will be interesting to see what the scouts from the Padres organization say about Olivera. He missed the 2012-2013 season with a reported blood disorder and the majority of his games last season were played as a DH. Hitting seems to be Olivera’s strength, and the Padres are hoping for a much more productive year at the plate from the new signings this off-season.
Another issue with offering Olivera a deal is he would need to play shortstop because the Padres have an Opening Day second baseman. Jedd Gyorko signed a 5-year, $35 million deal last season after an impressive rookie campaign in 2013, which included a team leading 23 homers. His numbers went way down in 2014, but he showed flashes of his old self after overcoming a 44-game stint on the DL because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
Gyorko has the ability to slide over to third base should the 30-year-old Olivera impress the scouts, but the Padres traded for third baseman Will Middlebrooks in December. Middlebrooks’ rookie campaign in 2012 was stellar with 15 home runs and 54 RBI over 75 games, but his career trajectory has been hindered by injuries with only 63 games played in 2014.
It’s difficult to know where Olivera would fit into the Padres’ lineup unless he can play shortstop or has a great bat. Gyorko and Middlebrooks have shown enough promise to be the Opening Day starters despite lackluster numbers in 2014.
However, just like everyone is saying, General Manager AJ Preller is operating on a different level, so it is impossible to predict his next move.