The Cuban Muscle Situation

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports. Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera at the WBC.

Okay so we were wrong

Ben Badler reported today that contrary to the thoughts of writers here, the Braves held a private workout for Hector Olivera in the DR Today with John Coppolella, Fredi Gonzalez, Gordon Blakely and Roy Clark attending. That entourage seems to confirm a strong interest in the soon to be 30 year old second baseman.  He’s represented by the same group as Dian Toscano would could make signing him easier as well.

There’s a scouting report on Olivera here. That report says he took some ground balls at third as well as second but hinted his arm wasn’t as good as it once was. For more details on Olivera check out Alan’s piece from earlier this week.


Having a Cuban is the latest fad. Like most of these things however the talent pool isn’t infinite. Last week we learned that outfielder and Cuba’s center fielder in the last WBC Guillermo Heredia had defected. Historically it would take a bout a year before the 23 year old outfielder is available to sign but the changes in licesing could make him available as early as this summer.  Badler ranked Heredia the #11 prospect in Cuba last year.

That’s A Wrap

Varona seems to fill a void in the Braves system but of course the same can be said for a lot of other teams and is up for auction now; auction being the operative word.  Olivera seems like insurance against Peterson falling short and Callaspo being less than expected – though I don’t; expect much from him at second. It would also seem to support the idea that Peraza won’t be called up this season so he can get more at bats against good pitching and to keep his arbitration clock from starting early for no good purpose.

The “I gotta have one of those” mentality suggested in the last sentence is something Hart is unlikely to succumb to. He added the international slot money in order to use it strategically and for maximum impact. the total cost in bonus, penalties and salary for Moncada mean a player – or two or three players for Moncada money – like Varona makes more sense for Atlanta. Hart no doubt had his new team of Latin American scouts watching Varona and we know now they watched Olivera today.  It would be a shock if they attended or conducted another of the Varona’s workouts and looked hard at more of the lesser know Cubans around. Whether they sign one or not will depend on what they see and the price.