Last week the Yankees traded Martin Prado to the Marlins, but up until that point, it had looked like Prado would be the team's starting second baseman. Now Brian Cashman has said that he's fine with Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela competing for the position during spring training. If the Yankees still wanted to go the free agent route for a second baseman, there aren't really a lot of options left on the market at this point, especially after Asdrubal Cabrera agreed to a deal with the Rays yesterday. There is still time for a reunion with Stephen Drew, but if they want to look elsewhere, then Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera should be available soon. Would Olivera be a good fit for the Yankees?
Olivera is a 6-foot-2, 220 pound right-handed hitter who is described as having a "loose, quick swing and a good hitting approach." He has decent power for a middle infielder, and was considered to have plus speed in his prime. Throughout his career in Serie Nacional in Cuba, Olivera was a very consistent hitter, averaging .336/.437/.572 during five seasons from 2008-2012. Unfortunately, Olivera missed the entire 2012-2013 season in Cuba due to a blood condition (thrombosis in his left bicep, according to the Cuban press). He did return for the following season, and he was able to hit .316/.412/.474 with 7 HR. Scouts haven't gotten a chance to see him play live recently, so it is expected that he will hold a showcase at some point.
The 29-year-old defected from Cuba earlier this year, but he is not yet eligible to sign because he still needs to obtain residency papers and a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control and there's no telling how long that will take. On the plus side, after he is eventually signed Olivera will be ready to go straight to the major leagues. Ben Badler of Baseball America considers him to be an upgrade over both Refsnyder and Pirela at second base, and also thinks that the Yankees are one of the top three teams expected to sign him (the other two being the Padres and Athletics). It's estimated that he will end up with a contract somewhere around what fellow countryman Yasmany Tomas received, which was six-years and $68.5 million. The Yankees offseason moves so far have revolved around the idea of saving money, so that could mean that they're saving it up to hand out to someone like Olivera or that they're just saving for the sake of saving.
Do you think the Yankees should pursue Olivera when he is cleared to be signed, or are you content to see Refsnyder and Pirela battle for the position during spring training?