The Braves made a huge investment in Hector Olivera when they acquired him from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Though L.A. paid his $28 million bonus, the Braves still gave up a mid-rotation guy in Alex Wood and one of the top prospects in the organization in Jose Peraza. Needless to say, expectations were high for the 30-year old prospect. Many were quick to acclaim the trade one of the worst in Braves history. Not so fast.
While still talented, Alex Wood has surely regressed in 2015. His peripheral stats don’t lie and he’s been even worse for the Dodgers. Losing Jose Peraza was a tough pill to swallow, but his low on base percentage given his batting average likely worried the team regarding his future in the big leagues. Ozzie Albies also mans second base, and arguably has higher upside. The team still has Jace Peterson, who has room to improve his game. I also really like free agents Ben Zobrist and Howie Kendrick as potential suitors for the team next season, assuming they are more serious about competing.
Many Braves fans are no longer tuning in due to the horrendous downfall of the team in the second half of the season, and many haven’t gotten much of a chance to see Olivera in action. Those who have watched and have seen Olivera are still yet to see the full package. The third baseman surely has showcased his power at times this season, but he hasn’t been a gamechanger… yet.
Olivera has battled nagging injuries all season, and it took weeks for him to take the field after being acquired. He also has not seen his family since the beginning of baseball season. On top of that, he is in a platoon role at third while he adjusts to the big league game.
The Cuban is in for a bigger role next season. Fredi Gonzalez made it clear that the platoon with Adonis Garcia is temporary as he adjusts to the big leagues. However, it’s not like he has not been productive. The sample size is small, but if you were to average out Olivera’s big league stats thus far over a span of 162 games (a full MLB season), he would be hitting .260 with 15 home runs and 81 RBI. With the exception of Freddie Freeman, that would make Olivera the most productive member of the team.
The number one priority for Olivera is keeping him healthy and comfortable. A full spring training, familiarity with coaches and teammates, and hopefully a clean slate for 2016 will allow Olivera to live up to the potential of being the mid-lineup hitter the team wants him to be.
With the Dodgers taking the tab on his bonus, I think the Braves have made a nice investment on Olivera. I think they moved two sell-high candidates in order to get him, and many don’t realize how inconvenienced Olivera has been this season. The third base market is also pretty weak this offseason.
Hector Olivera looks like he will be a very productive player next season, and with John Schuerholz claiming that there won’t be another season like 2015, more moves will be made to offer more protection in the lineup. Patience is virtue Braves fans. It’s not every day you acquire a 30-year old prospect in the midst of a rebuild, but I think John Hart made the right move.