Nearly two months passed between Hector Olivera agreeing to deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and his officially joining the club, which was announced Tuesday. With Olivera now in the fold, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman detailed the plan to quickly get him Major-League ready, if Olivera isn’t yet there.
The 30-year-old Cuban native has been sent to Camelback Ranch, where he’s expected to remain for one week before joining High-A Rancho Cucamonga. “Then we’ll get him to Triple-A Oklahoma City, play there for a while and reassess at that point,” Friedman said during a conference call Tuesday night.
Olivera spent his career playing second base in Cuba, but worked out for the Dodgers at third and said through a translator Tuesday he can also play first base. Settling on a position or positions can be sorted out in the coming weeks. What’s already is evident is Olivera will be given an opportunity in the Majors this season.
“We’re at a time when offense is at a premium in the game,” Friedman said. “His bat is his carrying tool and we feel he has the chance to be a real impact bat in the Majors. We’re going to do everything we can to provide him with the right environment to bring him along and we feel very confident he’s going to come up at some point and be an option for us and someone who can help us win games.”
Manager Don Mattingly has indicated his preference is to have the 25-man active roster composed of 12 pitchers (five starters, eight relievers) and 13 position players. The Dodgers currently are carrying 13 pitchers.
The extra reliever presumably will be sent down at some point, whether it be for Olivera’s debut or Yasiel Puig’s return from the disabled list. Olivera’s arrival could further muddy the picture at third base, but should he prove a capable second baseman then he could spell Howie Kendrick, who’s started 36 of 38 games this season.
Having a surplus of infielders may also factor into the Dodgers’ acquiring a starting pitcher. “I think having as many good players as possible helps you not only in constructing your own roster but also allows you the opportunity to have more good players to talk about with other teams,” Friedman said.
It was previously reported the Dodgers were keen on trading a third baseman, with Alex Guerrero already having drawn interest.
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