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Roster Decisions: Lester Oliveros

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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 to add. This name is one that I had not really thought about previously. Based on the title of this article, that one name is that of 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.

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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 will 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 acquire Oliveros, along with (St. Paul Saints pitcher) Cole Nelson, from the Detroit Tigers in August of 2011 in exchange for 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 would expect that the Twins would add him to the 40 man roster before then. With so much 40-man roster flexibility, adding Oliveros just makes sense.
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