Padres News: Latest on Hector Olivera

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There has been a lot of talk recently around Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera. The San Diego Padres have once again placed themselves as front runners for another international prospect player’s services in the 2015 preseason, as if that is even a surprise anymore.

It was just last year that the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers bought all the players, right?

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Ben Badler of Baseball America recently wrote that not only are the Padres one of the top candidates to land Olivera, but that general manager A.J. Preller’s pursuit of Olivera goes all the way back to 2009. Back when he was lower on the totem poll working for the Texas Rangers, but now he is emboldened by the leverage given to him by the Padres aggressive ownership group. One of my favorite parts of Badler’s report is about an early Preller/Olivera meeting where Preller met with Olivera at his home following an earlier workout for the San Fransisco Giants. Preller spoke in fluent Spanish to the youngster and for young players in non-English speaking countries, building that kind of rapport and trust is huge – especially for a younger GM like Preller.

Let’s also of course keep in mind that Preller attended Olivera’s showcase in January in between getting new outfielders and an ace starting pitcher. No small feat. Even on top of that, Preller has shown no fear of jettisoning longer contracts signed by previous regimes, so Jedd Gyorko should be worried.

Yet Olivera is not a sure bet to be the next Yoenis Cespedes or Jose Abreu. The last the world really saw of him was all the way back in 2009 at the World Baseball Classic; outside of his recent workouts and showcase events.

Olivera is 29 yrs-old now, while Jedd Gyorko has two years of genuine major league experience already. Gyorko is also only 26 yrs-old and signed to a pretty team-friendly contract, as long as he can rebound to his 2013 self. A.J. has shown that he understands there is NEVER too much depth on a major league roster, or a minor league one for that matter.

My concern here would be that Olivera isn’t major league ready, struggles in the minors, and doesn’t make his major league debut until he’s already 31 yrs-old and he’s nothing more than an aging back-up player.

Will the Padres spend more money for Preller’s first big international signee, or will they decide to let him go elsewhere?

What do you guys think? Should the Padres bet on Olivera?

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