Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reported this morning that Cuban utility man Hector Olivera is set to become part of a team once again; however, it will not be within Major League Baseball, as he has agreed to terms with the Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters.
At this current time in his career which he does look to rebound and prove worthy of a second chance, Olivera is still being paid by the Dodgers who are responsible for having brought him into the league and will continue to pay Olivera what he had signed for through to the conclusion of the 2020 regular season which by that time may just see him back where it was thought that he belonged from the get-go.
It has become more and more frequent over the course of the past few seasons that the next generation of MLB superstars are those who are scouted and later defect Cuba for the opportunity that for them is a once in a lifetime chance.
This was the same storyline for Hector Olivera just two short years ago when the 32-year-old outfielder agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers, however, later would he know that he’d find himself a free agent a brief time later, however, it was not a decision he made to enforce that, it was more his actions that led him in the direction of a market now empty where he has sat alone until today.
Looking back on March of 2015, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez had reported that Olivera, who was expected to make a large impact upon his debut in this game that has been re-invented, was declared a free agent by the commissioner’s office in New York and was set to become a free agent seeking a contract at the big league stage.
In just a matter of three weeks later, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported that Olivera, a native of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, had struck a deal in the United States as he was set to sign a six-year, $62.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers which came alongside a $28 million signing bonus.
Upon finalization of the deal between the two sides, the club sent Olivera for a physical examination as a requirement of completion. Here is where things became a little bit tricky. Olivera went through numerous tests to make sure he was healthy and as his results became available for viewing, it was discovered that he had a slight UCL tear. What did this mean for Olivera’s career which he was hopeful of beginning? It meant a clause was inserted in his first professional contract that was add a seventh year with a value of $1 million if Tommy john Surgery ever became a need.
Moving forwards now which might make some heads spin. When you first initially with a franchise, the ultimate goal is to make your first appearance with the team that found your services and invested so much time into moving your services to another side of the world. Well, in Olivera’s case, something just along those lines would be exactly what happened and did so unexpectedly.
On July 30 on 2015, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that a three-team deal including the Los Angeles Dodgers had been finished in its entirety with all players involved being informed just moments later. The other two clubs who had a part in this were the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports was next to jump in on the talks of the blockbuster where he reported that loosing Olivera meant that the Dodgers would be eating roughly $43.5 million in payroll costs. This was followed by a report from Eric Stephen of True Blue LA who said that the Marlins would be sending an unknown amount to the Dodgers in cash considerations.
As for who went where in this 13-player trade, the transactions map looked a little something like this:
Los Angeles Dodgers receive: RHP Mat Latos, OF/1B Michael Morse, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Bronson Arroyo, LHP Luis Avilan, RHP Jim Johnson, UT Jose Peraza
Miami Marlins receive: RHP Jeff Brigham, RHP Victor Araujo, RHP Kevin Guzman, and salary relief from dealing Latos and Morse
Atlanta Braves receive: INF Hector Olivera, LHP Paco Rodriguez, RHP Zack Bird
Anyways, fast forward now to the day in which Olivera was set to see his major league debut against the on September 1, 2015, however, instead of doing so in blue and white, it happened at while sporting red and white. Yes, it wasn’t where his life long dream first came true, however, it was the next spot that brought him on to give him that first sweet taste of reality in baseball.
All was going well for Olivera during his tenure in Georgia, however, all good things come to an end, though, this one was for an unfortunate series of events that put him behind bars for what was originally set for 90 days in April of 2016 due to a case of domestic abuse which he was arrested for and later convicted of, however, after going before a judge to testify his case, he had 80 days suspended, therefore, he fought successfully.
This would make things very complicated for the Braves who were forced to make a decision for the better of their entire organization, therefore, cutting ties with their man who had been thought of so highly given his skillset and talents. He was later charged with misdemeanour assault and battery of a women who we later learnt had been hospitalized while bruising was also visible from the attack at the time.
Now that I have covered a good chunk of his life story, let’s fast-forward to the last headline heard before things became silent. Olivera has since tried to make things right following his mistake which he may have a long way to come back from if he dreams to see the major league stage ever again. With this in mind, on the same day he was traded to Atlanta, Olivera made a generous donation of $10,000 to the Florida Legends Foundation, which helps kids play in tournaments and showcases them for scholarships.
For his career at the major league level, Olivera owns a slash line of .245/.296/.378 to go alongside two home runs and 13 RBI’s in a total of 98 at-bats and 108 plate appearances through 30 games played in the entirety of his services. Should you choose to count his tenure with the Cangrejeros de Santurce in the Puerto Rican Winter League in 2016, Olivera played 33 games there where he hit with an average of .250 to go alongside one home run and 14 runs batted in.
If you were to ask for the opinion of a major league exec, they would likely tell you that Olivera is being given the chance to prove he deserves to have that spotlight brought back upon him once again, however, that is fully dependent upon the impact he makes and the character in which he looks to develop internally as he gets older, wiser and matures over his lifetime in which he hopes can be positively reflected on one day in a sports.