After failed bid for Mesa, Oriole fans can turn attention to pursuit of GM - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

After failed bid for Mesa, Oriole fans can turn attention to pursuit of GM

Photo Credit: AP/Shizio Kambayashi

In the end, it’s not surprising that heavily hyped Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa and his brother, Victor Mesa Jr., will join the Miami Marlins. They were scheduled to be introduced by the Marlins on Monday morning.

Even though the Orioles began pursuit of Mesa with a monetary advantage, it was unrealistic to think that they were going to sign the brothers.

When the Orioles traded Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to Atlanta ahead of the non-waiver trading deadline, they added $2.75 million in international signing bonus money.

They had significantly more money than the Marlins, but even if the Orioles hadn’t traded $750,000 of it to Philadelphia for Jack Zoellner, a 23-year-old third baseman who has been stuck in the Gulf Coast League for the past two seasons, Miami probably still would have found a way to sign Victor Victor Mesa.

After Mesa held an open workout at Marlins Stadium, Miami moved aggressively to add to their offer, trading two minor leaguers to Cincinnati and reliever Kyle Barraclough to Washington for enough money to barely edge the Orioles’ $6,563,500.

Plus, the Orioles had several disadvantages. Miami is home to not only a large Cuban population, but many major leaguers from the island nation live there.

Because the Orioles have not been an aggressive player in the Latin American market for some years and entered the market late this year, there was no scouting infrastructure and experience with how it works.

Former executive vice president Dan Duquette, who led the effort to sign Mesa, was let go by the Orioles just before the Oct. 5 showcase.

The disadvantages should be overcome by next July 2, when the new signing period for international prospects under 25 begins.

By the time Duquette announced the Orioles’ re-entry into the international market when Manny Machado was traded to the Dodgers on July 18, most of the best prospects had already been signed.

The Orioles have signed four prospects: shortstop Moises Ramirez ($225,000) and outfielders Isaac Bellony ($220,000); Damien Valdez ($200,000) and J’Rudjeanon Isenia ($125,000); and could sign Sandy Gaston, a 16-year-old right-handed pitcher, who was also on display with the Mesas.

Gaston is MLB.com’s 18th-ranked prospect.

Victor Victor Mesa’s signing bonus is a reported $5 million, and his brother will receive $1 million, figures the Orioles could have met or even exceeded.

That leaves the Orioles with lots of money to spend before the June 15 deadline. They could spend it on Gaston and lower-level prospects from Latin America, wait and see if there are Asian prospects under 25 they’d like to bid on this fall or trade some of the money for players.

What the Orioles can’t do is keep the money and use it next year. By then, they’ll have a new baseball management hierarchy in place — possibly one with substantial experience in Latin America.

The Orioles did get a Cuban prospect, Yusniel Diaz, in the Machado deal. Diaz was signed by the Dodgers for $15.5 million in December 2015. That was before new restrictions were negotiated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that limits teams to pre-set amounts of pool money for international players.

The 22-year-old Diaz had a rough beginning at Double-A Bowie, hitting just .239 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. He did have a .329 on-base percentage.

Before he was traded, Diaz homered twice in July’s Futures Game at Nationals Park and hit .314 with a .428 OBP for Tulsa, the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate.

Diaz is one of several Orioles outfield prospects who’ll be inherited by the team that will replace Duquette and manager Buck Showalter.

Even though Oriole fans were hoping the team could sign Victor Victor Mesa and his brother, highly touted Cuban prospects have a mixed history of success in the major leagues. It will be fascinating to watch Mesa’s progress.

The more important story to watch is the team’s pursuit of someone to head baseball operations, which has been a secretive process. With the World Series beginning Tuesday, it’s best if the team has someone in place when free agency begins, just after the Series ends.

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. deqalt

    October 22, 2018 at 7:44 am

    This feels like our 116 loss of the season. We gave away Kevin Gausman. There is one more Cuban player, but are the Orioles just gonna lose the rest of this slot money because they can’t sign anyone this late?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 8:44 am

      Deqalt, it was a huge risk, especially since they were starting so late in the process.

  2. Ekim

    October 22, 2018 at 7:46 am

    I’m not expecting much from the Angeloosers… but don’t have any choice.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 22, 2018 at 8:36 am

    “it will be fascinating to watch Mesa’s progress from afar” …..

    Shoot Rich, it would have been a sight more interesting watching Mesa’s progress up close and personal-like! Same ol-same-ol….

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Boog, you’re pretty sharp for a Monday morning.

  4. Orial

    October 22, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Appears the O’s were “told/hinted at” no from get go about signing the Mesa’s. I don’t know who’s next in line after the O’s with slot money but now’s the time to strike at Gaston—$3-4 million? I’m still optimistic that the organization is learning from these failures and will drop a pleasant surprise with a good tandem(VP of operations and GM) on us. We must be patient but PLEASE get Gaston.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Orioles have a huge financial advantage in signing remaining international free agents, Orial.

  5. bmorebirds

    October 22, 2018 at 9:05 am

    No tears here over the Mesas. Like John Elway — if you don’t want to play in B’more, begone! May the ceiling for both overrated Mesas be AAA mediocrity. My Orioles eyes are firmly focused on the future, where dysfunction-free ownership will not only assemble a front office that’s the envy of baseball, but said ownership will not meddle with baseball operations in any way shape or form . . . after 115 loses I’m entitled to dream BIG DREAMS, dammit, so leave me be.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 9:47 am

      Bmorebirds, you need to be optimistic around here.

    • Ekim

      October 22, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Bmorebirds… I’m with you 1000%. The best news we cold get is that the Angelooser’s sell the team. Then, and only then, do we stand a chance of doing something positive.

  6. mcgooding

    October 22, 2018 at 9:42 am

    I’ve heard scouts saying that Victor Victor Mesa was along the lines of Diaz. He’s not a savior, and doesn’t seem as though he would be helping the Orioles for a few years. I’m more concerned about the O’s finding a GM and manager. Other teams are signing managers and the Orioles seem to be bringing up the rear with the winter meetings right around the corner!

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 9:48 am

      Hopefully, there will be some news soon, mcgooding.

  7. Bancells Moustache

    October 22, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Such is life for a terrible team. We are rubbing our rosary in hopes of signing some 16 year old pitcher no one knew existed 2 weeks ago, but now is the second coming of Rocket Roger.

    It is what it is.

    You guys with your negativity, I tell ya. While you may be freaking out and thinking that the Orioles gave a number two starter who may become a Cy Young candidate away for nothing, I sleep soundly awaiting the dawn of the Jack Zoellner era.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Do you think Jack Zoellner will make you forget Wilson Betemit, Bancells?

  8. boss61

    October 22, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Good morning Rich.

    Vividly I recall when Vlad Guerrero Sr. was in this prime, and the O’s offered the most generous contract of anyone to sign him as a free agent. He chose to go to the Angels instead, citing the lack of a vibrant Latino culture and population here as a chief reason. That demographic circumstance is unchanged, as far as I know.

    Accoridngly, I was disappointed but unsurprised with the Mesas decision. Baltimore always will have ciltural demographics working against it. Maybe we are a little more attractive to Asian or (if there are any) European free agents. I wonder.

    Also, whether we had signed the Mesas or not, our problems are just about the same. Our needs are, simply, everything.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Mark, the Orioles have by far the most money to sign international free agents, so that may help.

  9. ptjhu

    October 22, 2018 at 11:15 am

    “What’s next for the Orioles?” Another 115 losses, probably. There’s no GM in place…there’s no Manager in place…they’ve gutted the team…the player development is atrocious (you know it’s bad when the acquired players in trades immediately vault to the Top 30 list). The only constant is the ownership.

    It feels like 1987-1988 all over again.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 11:19 am

      Ptjhu, didn’t the “why not” year follow? Hopefully, things will get somewhat better soon.

      • ptjhu

        October 22, 2018 at 11:32 am

        From your lips to God’s ear, Rich.

      • BirdsCaps

        October 22, 2018 at 11:00 pm

        The “Why Not” team was a little before my time, but that roster could not be as messed up as the roster is for the 2019 Birds. The entire 40 man is an abyss. Unfortunately, the ’19 team will likely be known as the “Why God” team rather than a resurrection of the success of the Why Not squad.

        • Rich Dubroff

          October 23, 2018 at 8:25 am

          BirdsCaps, I ‘m not suggesting this team will be a contender in 1989. It’s only because ptjhu brought up 1987-1988.

  10. bats in the blefary

    October 22, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    What’s next? More ineptness, I’d imagine. Why should anyone expect otherwise? It sounds like the Angelos boys are talking a better game than their father ( But then who wouldn’t. He’s been beyond horrendous) , but they’ve yet to show a path that is in any way significantly improved.

    Sign Gatson for God’s sake. get something out of that Gausman deal, that right now looks like another DD disaster.

  11. BirdsCaps

    October 22, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    I am not an expert in international prospects, but are there any other blue chip international prospects besides the Mesa Brothers and Gaston? If there aren’t any other big names, then what was the purpose of making international slot money a centerpiece of the Gausman and Brach trade. Is the organization so inept that they didn’t see the Marlins as a likely contender for the Mesas. Also, Jeter managed to mess up something for the O’s. (what else is new)

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 23, 2018 at 8:29 am

      BirdsCaps, I think the Orioles thought they would be easily able to outbid the Marlins and others. I think it was naive to think that others couldn’t have been contenders.

      The Orioles also wanted to dump salaries. Finding someone to take Darren O’Day’s $9 million salary was key.

      I am not an expert on international prospects, either, but when there’s a set limit on spending, the best prospects sign first, and the Orioles go a late start.

  12. Hallbe62

    October 22, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    Signing Sandy Gaston would qualify as a good initial entry into the International market. Offer the 16 yr. old a 5 Million dollar signing bonus, and he’ll come to Baltimore (Aberdeen/Frederick). Back that up with a bonafide stud as the #1 overall draft pick and viola….there’s 2 players we can develope properly and build behind. ⚾

    • BirdsCaps

      October 23, 2018 at 3:10 am

      I wish I could be as optimistic as you Hallbe62. For the O’s to be good there will need to be an entire pipeline of talented prospects. I follow the O’s farm pretty closely (Half season tix to single A Aberdeen) and I just don’t see a lot of promise. Our depth is at the OF and even there we don’t have a surefire blue chip prospect. Pitching is relatively bad, but we have first rounders hall, Harvey, and Sedlock, but none of those are standouts. Now in the middle infield we are just about completely devoid of quality prospects. Adam Hall in Aberdeen looked good, and Yahn showed some promise, but these are certainly not players (at this stage) that you want to be counting on to produce at or even on making the show. Hopefully I’m wrong, but this looks like a long long rebuild at best and a return to the dark ages (2000-2011) at worst. Sorry for the pessimism.

      • Rich Dubroff

        October 23, 2018 at 8:35 am

        BirdsCaps, I wouldn’t put D.L. Hall in the same category as Cody Sedlock and Hunter Harvey. He had a 2.10 ERA at Delmarva. Needs to work on his control, but there’s promise there.

        I will also be interested to look at Cadyn Grenier, who struggled offensively with the Shorebirds, but his glove could make him a defensive prospect.

      • Hallbe62

        October 23, 2018 at 1:04 pm

        BirdCaps……I fear you are right. A long and painful rebuild awaits us.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 23, 2018 at 8:31 am

      Hallbe, the international market is very tricky,, and hard for an outsider to forecast. The Orioles will at least have a shot at the best amateur next year.

      • Hallbe62

        October 23, 2018 at 12:59 pm

        Yes, it will have to wait until next year. I just learned that Gaston signed with the TB Rays.

        Not much to say optimistically. So I’ll say nothing at all.

  13. Jbigle1

    October 23, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Is there any justification for not signing Gaston? No there is not. The rays just signed him for less than 3mm. The orioles completely botched this situation like we do over and over again. I’d love to hear an explanation from Angelos and co. On this one. He succeeded in his plans. Dumped Gausman and oday for pennies on the dollar and he won’t have to spend his IFA money.

  14. ZantiGM

    October 23, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    O’s lost 115 games BUT for the first time in years we will enter ST with a bunch of prospects that should be major leaguers very soon:
    Diaz
    Kremer
    Hays
    Mullins
    Mountcastle
    Sisco
    Carroll
    Pop
    Kline
    Means
    Tate
    Akin
    Lowther

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