Sources: Cuban Hector Olivera could have damaged UCL in throwing arm

MLB columnist
Yahoo Sports

Serious concern exists that Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, potentially hindering the market for a free agent who many expected to contribute in the major leagues this season, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Hector Olivera loosens up before a World Baseball Classic game in 2009. (AP file photo)
Hector Olivera loosens up before a World Baseball Classic game in 2009. (AP file photo)

Olivera, 29, recently underwent physicals for a number of teams in anticipation of Major League Baseball clearing him to sign. The market for Olivera swelled following a strong series of showcases and private workouts in which the right-handed hitter showed the powerful bat that made him a star second baseman in Cuba.

No signs of potential arm trouble surfaced during his tryouts, when Olivera showed an average arm from second base and third base.

He is believed to have at least one contract offer for more than $50 million, though the prospect of Olivera potentially needing Tommy John surgery in his right elbow could change that. If Olivera undergoes the procedure, the recovery time for a position player is typically six to nine months.

In 2013, Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez agreed to a six-year, $48 million deal that later was changed to a three-year, $12 million pact after concerns over Gonzalez’s health surfaced.

Previously, Olivera’s left arm was the bigger question. He reportedly suffered a blood clot in his left biceps, an issue that limited him to DH duties most of his final season in Cuba before he defected in September.

Unlike Yoan Moncada, the Cuban prospect on whom the Red Sox spent $63 million, Olivera would not be part of a team’s international-amateur budget because he is older than 23. Among the most interested teams in Olivera: the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants. A report from MLB.com also linked the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners to him.

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