• Roster Decisions: Lester Oliveros

    While writing an article on the Minnesota Twins upcoming 40-man roster decisions for the Offseason GM Handbook, one name jumped out to me as an obvious choice. This name is one that I had not really thought about previously. Based on the title of this article, that one name is, obviously, Lester Oliveros.

    Approximately 13 months ago, the hard-throwing right-handed reliever underwent Tommy John surgery. His rehab went pretty well. On July 30th, he made his first appearance in a GCL Twins game. Over the next four weeks, he made a total of six appearances and threw 6.1 innings, all for the GCL squad. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out eight.

    Seems strange to add a guy who pitched so little and only in the GCL to the 40-man roster, doesnít it? But, in my mind, it is an easy choice for several reasons.
    First, and most important, it comes down to talent. Oliveros has terrific stuff. Reports I got from Ft. Myers were that he was throwing very hard and his stuff was nasty. Before his Tommy John surgery, he threw 95 mph with a good slider.



    Would he get selected in the Rule 5 draft? Relief pitchers are the most frequent players taken in the Rule 5. They are also the ones who tend to stick with their team. Oliveros has shown the he is very close to big league ready and has already pitched with the Tigers and Twins. With his stuff, there is a good chance he would be taken this year. If he isnít immediately ready for Opening Day, he could still go on the disabled list. In my mind, he would be quite likely to be selected.

    Of course, for him to be eligible to be selected in the Rule 5, the Twins would have to sign him to a minor league contract. You see, Oliveros can become a six-year minor league free agent immediately after the World Series unless he and the Twins agree to a contract before then. A year ago, the Twins signed Josmil Pinto right after the World Series (or even just before that) which did not allow him to become a free agent. Then, in November, Pinto was added to the 40-man roster. If the Twins want to keep Oliveros around, they will likely need to sign him very quickly. The other (more likely) option is just to add him to the 40-man roster before the World Series is complete.

    Another thing that makes this a no-brainer in my mind is that Oliveros has one option year remaining. He was optioned in 2011 and 2012. He did not use an option in 2013 because the Twins removed him from the 40-man roster about this time last year before signing him to a minor league contract. In other words, they donít have to rush him. They donít have to have him up all season. They can let him continue to come back at his own pace.

    The Twins acquired Oliveros, along with (St. Paul Saints pitcher) Cole Nelson, from the Detroit Tigers in August of 2011 in exchange for the new Mr. October, Delmon Young.

    In my mind, the decision to add Lester Oliveros back to the Twins 40-man roster this offseason is a no-brainer. Heís still just 25. He has terrific stuff and plenty of high-upside bullpen potential. He has an option remaining and can be brought back to 100% at a proper pace. Because he can become a six-year minor league free agent after the completion of the World Series, I expect the Twins will add him to the 40-man roster before then. With so much 40-man roster flexibility, adding Oliveros just makes sense.
    This article was originally published in blog: Roster Decisions: Lester Oliveros started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I hadn't thought much about Oliveros, but your case for him makes sense. Let me add that the Twins' bullpen isn't really that solid. Most of the guys slumped at one point or another and there is a need for more good arms in the 'pen.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      He is a candidate, and probably a no-brainer candidate because the Twins have so much dead weight on their 40 man roster.
    1. SpitefulRabbit617's Avatar
      SpitefulRabbit617 -
      With the drop that Burton had from last year to this year, your case make this a very important issue. I'd hate to have quality pitching this 2014 year and then have the bullpen give up the games again........
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      I hadn't thought much about Oliveros, but your case for him makes sense. Let me add that the Twins' bullpen isn't really that solid. Most of the guys slumped at one point or another and there is a need for more good arms in the 'pen.
      I agree with you and forgot about Oliveros. I like the additions of Welker and Mark Hamburger.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      I agree with you and forgot about Oliveros. I like the additions of Welker and Mark Hamburger.
      Hamburger is not on the 40 man roster, but he is one to watch. He'll start the 2014 with his 50 game suspension, but he's got stuff. And, he was a starter all season.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Gotta hang on to Oliveros. He and Duensing are the last remaining branches of the Chuck Knoblauch trade tree. I still have my fingers crossed one of them can gain some future value and be flipped to keep it growing.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Lester is a factor but I think the Twins will try and see what happens with him. He is, after all, a minor league free agent and really doesn't have to sign with anyone until after the Rule 5. He might get his best deal with the Twins, unless he is on someone else's radar.

      The interesting aspect of the 40-man is that you do need a body or three to delete from the 40-man if you sign free agents. You can't do that from the add-ons.

      So some folk will be there....hoping that they can get thru waivers and take a minor league assigment in December (i.e. Hermsen, possibly Hernandez, or anyone that the Twins would still retain control of for future seasons.).
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I would think that it is a no-brainer as well, but there is overlap in skill set with Welker and Tonkin and I assume that one of these would replace Roenicke. Maybe another will replace Pressly if he is converted back to a starter in the minors. Frankly, I'd rather see Olilveros than Fien have a spot on the 40-man (and 25-man) roster (because what he did is not sustainable and started to regress in the last couple months) ; however, not sure that the Twins see it this way.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      I think there might be a little wish casting going on here. It's not like he's had any success - at all - in MLB. In 23 innings, his strikeout rate is in the 5s, and his walk rate is about the same. He's always had trouble not walking guys at just about every level. And now he's coming off TJ?

      I guess the Twins could make enough room if they wanted, but I could say that about better guys from 31 other teams that will likely be dropped. He may be kept, but I'll be shocked if it ever really matters.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      I think there might be a little wish casting going on here. It's not like he's had any success - at all - in MLB. In 23 innings, his strikeout rate is in the 5s, and his walk rate is about the same. He's always had trouble not walking guys at just about every level. And now he's coming off TJ?

      I guess the Twins could make enough room if they wanted, but I could say that about better guys from 31 other teams that will likely be dropped. He may be kept, but I'll be shocked if it ever really matters.
      There's probably room to keep him, but he doesn't exactly excite me in terms of potential.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Isn't Deolis Guerra also a minors free agent this season. Do you have a list of potential minor free agents from the organizations?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Oliveros is still young and has a good MiLB track record. I am not sure what 23 MLB innings says about anyone.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      Isn't Deolis Guerra also a minors free agent this season. Do you have a list of potential minor free agents from the organizations?
      See Jeremy's Rosters & Payroll link on the front page. Jeremy keeps that updated with each transaction. There is a column for minor league free agency.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      I would think that it is a no-brainer as well, but there is overlap in skill set with Welker and Tonkin and I assume that one of these would replace Roenicke. Maybe another will replace Pressly if he is converted back to a starter in the minors. Frankly, I'd rather see Olilveros than Fien have a spot on the 40-man (and 25-man) roster (because what he did is not sustainable and started to regress in the last couple months) ; however, not sure that the Twins see it this way.
      I definitely would not keep Oliveros over Fien. Fien's been pretty good for a year and a half. Can he sustain the dominance he's had, maybe not likely, but he's proven at this point. Oliveros is still about upside. His upside may be higher, but there are a lot of other guys who should come off the 40 man before Fien.

      And, who cares if there is an overlap in dominant relievers, if they would become dominant relievers. Also, Tonkin has two options. Welker and Oliveros each have one option. If they're good, I'm just fine with having multiple.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      13 months removed from TJ surgery...
      Questions like is his location where it needs to be, is his FB up to velocity, does he have a feel for his slider.
      If the the answer is "no" to any of these, not sure the Twins want to put him on the 40 man roster.
      And if the answer is no, I have high confidence he wouldn't get taken in the Rule 5 draft.

      Obviously the Twins have to find some bodies to fill the 40 man and if they are short of names, miight as well add him. Butt the chance of him significantly contributing in the 2014 MLB season is low.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      The Twins should, ideally, clear out no less than 25% of the 40-man roster. Oliveros being added is no biggie in such a situation. I would hope that the Twins see his potential and wisely move the $4 million between Burton and Swarzak away with such viable replacements as Tonkin and either Watts or Oliveros.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Weird attitude here. If healthy, Oliveros projects as a good to very good setup man. Burton is no longer such a guy.
    1. jtkoupal's Avatar
      jtkoupal -
      I'm on board with Oliveros getting a roster spot. I'd have Fien and Thielbar in the set up role and Burton elsewhere. Burton could be a trade chip, I'd rather see Oliveros.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Pressly to the SR in Rochester. Roenicke gone. Burton traded. There are three spots for Tonkin, Oliveros, and Watts. Those three throw gas. Make it happen, Twins.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Tonkin's on the 40-man now. Roenicke's already been outrighted. Pressly remains on the 40-man even if optioned to AAA.
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