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Miami Marlins linked to Cuban prospect Hector Olivera

Cuban prospect Hector Olivera was ruled an eligible free agent by the MLB and the Marlins have been named as one of his potential suitors.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins were very active this offseason by making moves with the intention of piecing together a playoff-caliber ball club.  They started things off by signing their franchise superstar, Giancarlo Stanton, to the largest contract in team history.  They then went on to add Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Matt Latos, and Martin Prado through trades, along with signing Michael Morse and Ichiro.

Currently a couple of weeks into Spring Training, it seems as if the Marlins roster-especially the starting position players- is set in stone.  That may not definitely be the case, as the Marlins are reported to be one of the teams interested in Cuban prospect, Hector Olivera.  Ben Badler, of Baseball America, listed Miami as one of possible destinations for the Cuban infield prospect.  Here is what Badler had to say about the Marlins and Olivera:

The same could be true for the Marlins, who have a couple of selling points with Miami being a prime destination for Cuban players and having no state income tax. With the Marlins just making a pair of trades in December to add second baseman Dee Gordon and third baseman Martin Prado, there isn't an obvious fit for Olivera, although Prado has the versatility to slot into several positions if the Marlins wanted to move him around.

Olivera, age 29, was recently declared an eligible free-agent by the MLB.  His hitting and power is lauded by scouts, but there are questions surrounding Olivera as to whether he is major league ready.  His most pressing uncertainties are his defense and durability, as he has suffered a couple of notable recent injuries (missed the entire 2012 season with a blood clot in his arm) and has not appeared in a game viewed by scouts in a few years.  Olivera's most recent stats are from 2013, where appeared in 73 games for Santiago de Cuba and posted a line of .316/.412/.474 to go along with seven home runs and 38 RBI's.

The connection of Hector Olivera to the Marlins is a bit puzzling for a couple of reasons.  The first, and main, reason being that there is not really a spot to plug Olivera in the Marlins lineup.  The Marlins just gave away their top prospect for Dee Gordon this past offseason and Gordon plays the same position, second base, as Olivera.  The move for Gordon suggested that he was their guy at second for, at least, the near-future.  So it does not make much sense for the Marlins to invest money in another second baseman.

Olivera is said to be able to play at the corner infield positions as well, but the Marlins just signed Michael Morse to a two-year deal worth $16 million.  So it seems as if the only possible fit for Olivera on the major league club would be in a platoon role at either of the corner infield positions.  But for someone who is rumored to be expecting a deal in excess of $70 million, it is not worth it to invest that kind of money into Olivera unless he is going to be an everyday player.  The Marlins could keep him in the minors for a year, but it seems like too big of a price tag for a player that you do not currently have a spot for, along with having a few doubts surrounding his game.

It is good to see the Marlins continue to be active in free agency, even if all they end up doing is sniffing around.  But with no real spot for Hector Olivera on the roster along with a number of young players that will be due for contract extensions in the next couple of seasons-Christian Yelich, Jose Fernandez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Marcell Ozuna-,the Marlins need to be mindful in how they allocate their limited cap space.  Also, with a number of quality starting pitchers hitting the free-agent market after this season, the Marlins should save their spending for next offseason.

Would you want to see the Marlins take a risk and throw a big contract at Olivera?