If Yasiel Puig didn't exist, who knows if the Dodgers would ever aggressively pursue international talent like they have the last couple of years.
But he does, so they do.
Today it was the signing of Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, who reportedly has a six-year, $62.5 million deal signed, sealed, and delivered. Oh ya, and a nice $28 million bonus to boot.
That's some serious cash for a team that already has the names Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, and Juan Uribe manning the positions that Olivera plays in second base, shortstop, and third base. Let's not forget that Alex Guerrero is another international star who's making big bucks.
What does all of this tell me? Expect to see some big changes in the Dodgers' infield for 2016.
Yes, I know Olivera will soon be 30 and is ready to help right now, and he very well could be a factor this year. But there's no doubt Andrew Friedman is already planning for the next wave of Dodgers' stars, and Olivera, Guerrero, and Corey Seager teaming up with Adrian Gonzalez could be the fresh, new look he's envisioning next season and beyond.
It only makes sense, as Rollins is considered a one-year stop gap, and Uribe appears to be on his last contract with LA. About the only other thing I would consider is re-signing Kendrick, putting Olivera at third, Seager at short, and looking to trade Guerrero.
All of this is obviously looking into the future, so let's take a look at what Olivera brings to the table right now. As the link above states, he is a fantastic hitter who is capable of hitting 15-20 dingers and driving in 75 runs in the middle of a lineup. Not bad for an infielder with no MLB experience, but that's how highly he's rated by scouts.
What's a reason for concern? He supposedly has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, but he's vigorously disputed that by passing physicals with four other teams. So go figure.
If you're a fan of finding the next big star from all over the globe, like Puig, then this signing appeals to you. Who knows what kind of impact he'll make this year, but as I've stated before, I firmly believe this was made with 2016 and beyond in mind. That's some serious talent on the Dodgers' infield if all works out.
If you don't believe in throwing out that kind of money to someone without even Minor League experience, then this might make you cringe a bit. But let's give Friedman and his boys the benefit of the doubt: they turned around Tampa Bay by uncovering hidden talent, and with a much bigger wallet in LA, he can definitely do the same again.