The battle for Cuban free agent Hector Olivera is over, and the Dodgers have emerged as the victors. Los Angeles signed the infielder to a six-year, $62.5 million deal, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The contract also comes with a $28 million signing bonus, but it's not yet known how it's distributed over the course of the deal.
The Dodgers beat out -- that we know of, anyway -- the Marlins, Braves, and finally their NL West rivals, the Padres for the services of Olivera. It's unclear exactly where the 30-year-old fits into Los Angeles' plans for 2015, as they already have Juan Uribe at third, Howie Kendrick at second, and an outfield already overflowing with players, but if his bat is as good as his numbers in Serie Nacional imply, they'll find room. Olivera is a career .323/.407/.505 hitter in Cuba, and batted .316/.412/.474 in his final season there.
It is worth pointing out that the deal still likely requires a physical before it's official, and that could be the undoing of the whole agreement. A rumor leaked weeks ago about Olivera's UCL in his throwing arm being damaged and possibly needing Tommy John surgery to fix. The Dodgers asked for a second physical, performed by their own doctors, and were denied, but now that Olivera has signed with them, that won't happen again. If the rumors his UCL is damaged are true, he could end up signing for less guaranteed money, as Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez did with the Phillies before 2014 after his physical scared Philadelphia. It could also solve the whole problem of where to play Olivera now, but have him back in time for 2016, when Howie Kendrick has possibly left as a free agent.
That might seem like a weird transaction for the Dodgers to make, or at least the timing is weird, but remember: money is not real to them, and they are already sitting on a nearly $30 million Cuban import in the minors who they don't have room or a plan for. Agreeing to a deal for what Olivera wants now then worrying about the rest as it comes, with the two-fold benefit of having Olivera and keeping him from San Diego, is motivation enough.