The Orioles made an undisclosed offer to Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa and couldn’t keep him from signing with the Marlins, who also are introducing younger brother Victor Mesa Jr. at this morning’s press conference in Miami. However, pitcher Sandy Gastón remains in play and the Orioles have regained a sizeable advantage in international signing bonus money.
They can’t match Little Havana and other geographical perks, but there are ways to entice the kid.
Gastón, 16, is a priority for the Orioles after they failed to sign Victor Victor, their No. 1 target following the showcase held earlier this month at Marlins Park. They have $6.5 million in bonus slot funds and can outbid other teams now that the Marlins reportedly are parting with about $6 million for the Mesa brothers.
The Marlins also want to sign Gastón, but he’d really have to be enamored with Miami. And the Orioles can’t walk away empty-handed after stockpiling the funds in order to make an aggressive push for Victor Victor and others.
Like I’ve said, the Kevin Gausman trade with the Braves is going to look like a real dud beyond the money saved if the $2.5 million in bonus slots isn’t utilized on an elite prospect. It’s a straight-up giveaway for a pitcher under team control through 2020.
I’ll also repeat that the funds don’t carry over through next summer and beyond. There’s a reset in July. Use them or lose them. And they can’t be transformed into cash to pay for free agents.
I mention this last part for fans who are accusing the Orioles of pocketing the signing bonus money instead of putting it toward the international market. It can be used only for this purpose.
Scouts and other evaluators love Gastón’s arm, which pushes his fastball into the high 90s. He had control issues in Cuba’s 18U league in 2017, but he was 15.
MLB.com rated Gastón as the fourth-best available pitcher on the international market on July 2 and he had an agreement in place with the Marlins before failing a drug test.
* Yasiel Puig is the Dodgers’ all-time leader in postseason games with 53 and you’d win a lot of bar bets by challenging someone to name him.
Puig broke a tie Friday night with Andre Ethier, another name I didn’t anticipate.
I would have blurted out Steve Garvey (45), Davey Lopes (45) or Bill Russell (49). I’m getting old.
I mention Puig because I’ve heard that the Orioles toyed with the idea of trying to acquire him, that executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter discussed the merits and the risks. It happened again over the summer.
Puig can be a handful - his maturity issues aren’t kept under wraps - but I got the sense that Showalter was fine with having him in the clubhouse. He could have worked with Puig.
It didn’t happen, of course, but it was considered.
* I predicted the Red Sox and Dodgers would meet in the World Series, but I wasn’t rooting for it. I wanted the Brewers to advance, and not because of Front Row Amy, so settle down.
I’ve been asked whether the Orioles could bring back Jonathan Schoop, who was relegated to bench duty, and I’ll repeat that it won’t happen via trade because he’s going to earn more than $10 million in arbitration. He’d have to be non-tendered, become a free agent and sign at a seriously discounted rate.
There have been lots of industry rumblings about the possibility that the Brewers will non-tender him - I was jumped by an emotional Wisconsin fanboy on Twitter for writing it, as if I’m the one pulling the strings here - but it seems unlikely based on the cost of acquiring him.
If you surrender middle infielder Jonathan Villar, pitcher Luis Ortiz and 18-year-old infield prospect Jean Carmona, you’re probably going to keep Schoop for more than a couple of months. But I’m sure that it’s been discussed after he batted .202/.246/.331 in 46 games. He went 0-for-8 in the playoffs.
That’s an expensive pinch-hitter.
I’d gladly take Schoop at second base and Villar at shortstop. Find a double play combination and stick with it to build continuity and a comfort zone.
Anyway, Red Sox in six. And again, I’m not rooting for it.