The Orioles will take more swings at the international market after whiffing on three of the top remaining prospects.
They went 0-for-3 against the highly touted Cuban trio of Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gastón, and are left holding $6.5 million in signing bonus slots.
It won’t evaporate until June 2019, with a reset the following month, but it’s burning a hole in the pockets of an organization that’s trying to juggle offseason business and cross various items off the list.
The Mesa brothers received a combined $6.25 million from the Marlins, with Victor Victor hauling in $5.25 million as the jewel of the group. The Rays swooped in and reached agreement with Gastón for a reported $2.6 million.
I can confirm that the Orioles made offers for Victor Victor and Gastón, the latter keeping them competitive with the Rays in bidding for the 17-year-old pitcher. But it appears that they weren’t willing to move past a set amount for an unproven but intriguing right-hander with an upper-90s fastball and wavering command.
The Rays held $3.5 million in bonus slots, again making the Orioles on paper the favorites to sign him, but they fell short with their offer and again couldn’t compete geographically.
It’s believed that the gap between offers from the Marlins and Orioles was much bigger. However, the Orioles have been working under a cloak of secrecy with little to no information leaking to the public.
Vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson, part of the five-member contingent that attended the Oct. 3 showcase at Marlins Park, took the lead in negotiations with agent Barry Praver of Magnus Sports.
Who knows how much the state of Florida influenced the three players? But the Orioles have been playing catch-up from the outset due to their lackluster efforts in the past to compete for international talent, their scouting department ranking among the thinnest in baseball.
The Orioles have vowed to overhaul the staff, with a hire pending that would put someone in charge of the process - likely encompassing the international, professional and amateur sides.
Interviews are taking place to bring in a president of baseball operations, who in turn will hire a general manager and manager. The World Series runs through October and it’s conceivable that the first announcement won’t come until next month.
I doubt that Victor Victor, his younger brother and Gastón were concerned about the vacancies. Money talks and it can drown out everything else.
The Orioles can use their $6.5 million on other international players, of course, but the bigger-ticket items coming off the board raises old concerns for a fan base that’s been promised a shift in organizational philosophy that handcuffed previous executives.
The slots also can be traded to build up the depth in the minors, though the decision in August to give the Phillies $750,000 worth for 23-year-old corner infielder Jack Zoellner, who’s languished the past two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, has been met unfavorably within the industry.