There’s generally not much in the way of trade or free-agent buzz during the early stages of MLB spring training, but sometimes there are a few rumors that warrant a serious look.

Much of the talk of spring camp right now is about players who reported out of shape, youngsters who might crack the roster or veterans who might not have much left in the tank. Most teams don’t talk about further acquisitions until the final weeks of the spring, when managers can really get a vision of what holes still need to be filled.

But sometimes trades are too good to pass up. The same goes for free-agent signings.

Below are the hottest rumors as things stand on Tuesday—just before the spring training game schedule gets underway.


Diamondbacks’ Willingness to Trade

A last-place team in 2014, the Arizona Diamondbacks made moves this offseason to give the organization hope for the future. But there are still a handful of expensive, underperforming veterans who could get the axe before the season gets underway.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that three veterans in particular have been made available:

But what good is a rumor if it isn’t swiftly denied by the team’s general manager? Heyman has that too:

Conflicting reports are nothing new, especially after a wild offseason. But it’s reasonable to believe that the team could actively look to move at least one of Trevor Cahill, Cody Ross or Aaron Hill. Team CEO Derrick Hall stated in the past that the team could look to shed payroll, via’s Steve Gilbert:

And Cahill, Ross and Hill are ideal trade candidates, at least from Arizona’s perspective. Below are their salaries for 2015, per Spotrac, compared with their production from 2014:

Cahill is battling several starters for a spot in the rotation, which doesn’t appear to have too many roles locked down. Josh Collmenter is presumably a guarantee, but the remaining four arms could be comprised of any of the following names—Cahill, Rubby De La Rosa, Jeremy Hellickson, Allen Webster, Chase Anderson, Vidal Nuno or Daniel Hudson.

Dealing Cahill and allowing the younger arms to progress as starters isn’t a bad idea.

Ross is essentially buried in the outfield, with Mark Trumbo slated for right, A.J. Pollock penciled into center and David Peralta ready for left. Ender Inciarte is the likely No. 4 outfielder. Ross is getting paid far too much to be a No. 5.

Finally, while Hill is slated to start as things stand now, the Diamondbacks would do well to give their younger middle infielders more reps. Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed are both shortstop prospects, but Owings is listed as the No. 3 second baseman on the depth chart, per Would Arizona consider moving him to second full time to clear a spot for Ahmed?

It’s something manager Chip Hale has to decide, but it’s not a bad idea.

There would definitely be teams willing to deal for Hill or Cahill, but Ross could be a hard guy to move. Arizona might have to consider releasing him outright.


Hector Olivera Takes Physicals

A bevy of Cuban prospects made headlines this offseason. Yasmany Tomas, Yoan Lopez and Yoan Moncada were highly sought-after talents once they hit the open market. One of their countrymen is still out there to be had, and interest is apparently picking up.

Hector Olivera appears to have taken the next steps in working toward an MLB career, reports Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

The 29-year-old is different from youngsters like Tomas, Lopez and Moncada in that he probably won’t need much seasoning to refine his tools. Sure, there will be an adjustment period moving from Cuba to the United States, but what you see is what you get with the 6’2″, 220-pound infielder.

Baseball America‘s Ben Badler highlighted what he saw from Olivera at a showcase early in February:

Olivera did show plus bat speed and a loose, easy swing with good bat path through the hitting zone and a mature approach that was evident even in BP. He drove the ball with authority and out of the park to all fields. The showcase was at the Dominican air force base, where the fences are short and scouts warn that can make for a deceptive evaluation, but he hit several balls that would have been out at any major league stadium, including one blast to straightaway center field. In three rounds, he hit around 10 balls out, mostly to his pull side, showing the power to be a 20-home run threat.

A 20-homer second baseman is a valuable commodity, but if Rosenthal‘s report about the Los Angeles Dodgers having interest is true, then it wouldn’t set up a favorable situation for Olivera or the organization.

There are multiple reasons—all of which have to do with the team’s personnel in the middle of the diamond. Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick are the current starters at shortstop and second, respectively, with Justin Turner and Darwin Barney scheduled to be reserves. That already fills the depth chart.

But Alex Guerrero, 28, is also waiting in the wings for an opportunity. He signed a four-year, $28 million deal in October 2013 before playing just 11 games for the Dodgers in 2014. It doesn’t appear as if there’s much greater of an opportunity in 2015, barring injuries to the parent club.

Guerrero can’t be optioned to the minors this year, however, so that leaves the club in a bit of a predicament.

So where would that leave Olivera?

Kendrick and Rollins are both free agents after the season, so perhaps the Dodgers could roll with Guerrero and Olivera then. But is it smart to turn to two first-time starters, ages 29 and 30, respectively? Probably not, especially for a team looking to win.

Olivera is a talent whom the Dodgers aren’t wrong to be somewhat interested in. But he’s simply not a fit for the current roster. It wouldn’t be wise for them to invest in his future, especially when it’s so foggy in Los Angeles.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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