I'm not sure if "sweepstakes" is the right word to describe the "bidding" for Hector Olivera, in that usually when you think of a sweepstakes you imagine more and more bidders anxiously trying to win. In the case of Olivera, as time goes by the number of interested parties seems to be dropping to where if you believe reports, the Oakland A's have still never made an offer and the Los Angeles Dodgers are the only once interested team that hasn't formally moved on.
And that's why the A's are so smart. They "monitor" situations without getting drawn into the fray, letting the other teams duke it out and either overpay or move on. And then if the A's get involved, it's not a bidding war but rather an opportunity to swoop in and secure the player at a reasonable price.
So if the A's sign someone it's probably going to be really early or really late. They signed Billy Butler really early and tried to do the same with Adrian Beltre. They used the enticement of a 4-year deal to add Yoenis Cespedes late and are now apparently one of the last teams standing -- that is, if they can even be considered to have stood up in the first place -- as Olivera tries to convince some team to actually sign him.
I mean what does an unproven 30-year old with a blood disorder who is rumored to need Tommy John surgery have to do to get a long and expensive commitment?
According to an array of different reports over time, the Atlanta Braves are unwilling to meet Olivera's wish for a 6-year deal and have moved on, the Florida Marlins were interested in a 7-year/$53M deal but have withdrawn the offer and moved on. Padres? Out. Giants? Out.
The only team ever thought to be in who has not moved on appears to be the Dodgers. And then there's the A's. So if the Dodgers are unwilling to come to an agreement with Olivera, then the $77M Olivera's agent claimed his client was being offered -- which looks like sheer bluffing since no confirmed report has exceeded $53M or $10M AAV -- becomes a top offer of $0, no teams bidding, and one team "still monitoring the situation".
The question is, would the A's be winners or losers if Olivera fell into their lap? Perhaps the actual deal, be it from the Dodgers, A's, or "mystery team," will be in the neighborhood of 6 years and $50M. That's a good deal for someone of Olivera's talent, but...while the Dodgers can afford to spend $50M on a bust the A's can't.
Olivera is a triple-threat to bust. There's the lack of any track record in major league baseball and there's the presence of a blood disorder that took him down for the count 2-3 years ago. And then there's the rumor, strongly denied only by the people who have a vested interest in getting Olivera a big contract, that the Cuban defector needs Tommy John surgery.
To me, a very plausible outcome is that whoever signs Olivera gets, in 2015, a player trying to play through an injury that needs surgery sooner or later. Perhaps Olivera puts up a line of .220/.300/.350 for half a season before succumbing to surgery, then misses most of 2016 recovering. He then returns in 2017, healthy, strong, and 32 years old, really to begin his big league career.
Honestly, I will be excited (and surprised) if the A's sign Olivera, simply because he is extremely talented and has the upside of an immediate impact player. We saw, with Cespedes in 2012, what a difference that can make. However, if the A's do not sign Olivera I will be relieved, or at least sanguine, because I cannot blame the A's if they decline to commit 6 years and/or $50M to a "triple threat" bust candidate.
Essentially it's possible that whoever signs Olivera is going to get a steal of a deal, but it's very likely that they are going to regret "winning" the "sweepstakes". We should know any day now, assuming anyone is actually willing to sign him.