Orioles' pursuit of Sanchez shows they're serious international players - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ pursuit of Sanchez shows they’re serious international players

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Orioles

Early in the offseason, Oriole fans obsessed over the team’s chances to sign Cuban outfielders Victor Victor Mesa, his brother, Victor Jr., and pitcher Sandy Gaston.

The Mesas signed with the Miami Marlins, and Gaston with the Tampa Bay Rays, even though the Orioles had about $6 million in international signing bonus money.

Things have changed dramatically since then. Mike Elias has taken over as the Orioles’ general manager and last month hired Koby Perez (shown above) to head international scouting.

One thing hasn’t changed. The Orioles still have tons of money, far more than the other 29 teams to sign international players before the June 15 deadline.

As Perez pointed out in his introductory conference call, nearly all of the best Latin American players sign soon after they’re allowed to on July 2. Still, it was possible that there would be an exception or two.

One of those appears to be Yolbert Sanchez, a 21-year-old Cuban shortstop who could sign with major league clubs as of Wednesday.

Elias and Perez have gone to the Dominican Republic to scout Sanchez, who plays a position of need for the Orioles.

While the Orioles could theoretically overpay and sign Sanchez, they’re being careful with their bidding and will offer him what they think he’s worth, not what they can afford.

Victor Victor Mesa signed with the Marlins for a reported $5.25 million, and his brother pocketed $1 million. Gaston’s bonus was reported at $2.61 million.


Victor Victor Mesa’s bonus was equivalent to that of the seventh overall pick in the amateur draft while his brother was valued as a low second-round choice. Gaston’s money is about what the 25th pick of the first round would get.

Scouts haven’t valued Sanchez as high as either Victor Victor or Gaston.

Even though the Orioles would love to have a major league-ready shortstop, they drafted Cadyn Grenier with the 37th overall pick last June. He played at Low-A Delmarva last season and will probably begin at High-A Frederick this season.

Grenier had a rocky debut for the Shorebirds, and isn’t likely to play in the majors this season.

A report from FanGraphs indicated that a club has promised Sanchez a $2 million bonus if he’ll wait until July to sign with them. That sort of romancing is common among clubs and international players.

It’s what the Orioles had lacked until Elias and Perez, who has years of experience in Latin America, came along.

It takes years for a club to establish itself as a player in the international market, and for the Oriole’s brass to be personally scouting Sanchez shows not only their interest in him, but their interest in being a serious international player.

Grenier signed for $1.8 million, and it will be interesting to see if the Orioles offer more than that for Sanchez.

Sanchez hit .260 with seven RBIs in 32 games for the Cuban National team last season and made five errors in 27 games at shortstop.

Elias reiterated at FanFest that he wouldn’t spend international money just to spend it. Although the advantage the Orioles hold disappears in four months, the team can still spend the money to bolster other parts of their operation.

The Orioles aren’t given that money by Major League Baseball. They’re given the right to spend that money, but come July 2, they won’t have much of an advantage unless they trade for additional funds as Elias’ predecessor, Dan Duquette, did in the Kevin Gausman deal.

Elias is serious about the Orioles becoming an international player. Although it might be nice for them to show they can sign an upper-echelon prospect such as Sanchez, their mere presence demonstrates that they’re not going away.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    February 7, 2019 at 8:16 am

    “…unless they trade for additional funds as Elias’ predecessor, Dan Duquette, did in the Kevin Gausman deal.”

    Let’s all hope things work out a little better under Elias.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 7, 2019 at 8:23 am

      I think they will, Zoey.

  2. Fareastern89

    February 7, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Two million dollars sounds like a reasonable amount to spend on a shortstop whose defensive skills, by all accounts, rate as above-average. If Elias doesn’t sign Sanchez, I’d have to assume that he saw something negative other scouts might have missed — but it sure would be nice to have this guy in the system.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 7, 2019 at 8:42 pm

      I’m eager to see what happens with Sanchez, Fareastern.

  3. deqalt

    February 7, 2019 at 8:43 am

    I am glad there involved, but I am not reading anywhere that Sanchez is an upper level prospect.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 7, 2019 at 8:44 pm

      I’ve never seen him play so I can’t offer an opinion, deqalt.

  4. PA Bird Lover

    February 7, 2019 at 8:53 am

    If I understand the international game money, if the O’s don’t sign Sanchez they lose the opportunity not the money. Am I correct with that? If we need depth, which is true and he is talented, why wouldn’t they sign him?

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 7, 2019 at 8:45 pm

      You are correct, PA. If they don’t sign him, it’s because they don’t agree on money or he prefers to wait until July to sign with a different team.

  5. bmorebirds

    February 7, 2019 at 8:58 am

    I’m picking up a tendency to view Dan Duquette as some kind of village idiot (115 losses will do that), while Mike Elias is the young analytics genius who’s riding in to rescue Baltimore. But the fact is, Duquette signed MLB’s first Mainland China player back in 2015 (Gui Yuan Xu). Duquette also brought in Jonathan Schoop, Wei-Yin Chin, Tsuyoshi Wada and Hyun Soo Kim. And believe it or not, Duquette appreciated the importance of analytics.
    What’s different under Elias is that ownership is now 100 percent behind efforts to make international scouting and analytics integral parts of the Baltimore Orioles.

    • Birdman

      February 7, 2019 at 12:52 pm

      bmore … four of the the international signings you cite under Duquette were from Asia, while only one (Schoop) was from the Caribbean or Latin America, which of course are the regions from which nearly all non-U.S. born players in MLB come … perhaps, as you note, Duquette’s absence from the Caribbean and Latin America market may have been the result of PA’s meddling.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        February 7, 2019 at 1:06 pm

        …of which there is no doubt..

      • bmorebirds

        February 7, 2019 at 1:49 pm

        Birdman, my fingers are crossed that Elias, Hyde, Perez, etc., are allowed to do their doggone jobs without meddling. That doesn’t seem to be asking too much. And BRobby05, if Duquette doesn’t deserve credit for Schoop, I stand corrected. DD did try to access the international market, but others insisted on saddling Orioles fans with light-hitting first basemen from Texas who make nine-figure salaries.

    • BRobby05

      February 7, 2019 at 1:35 pm

      Jonathan Schoop was signed in 2008. Dan Duquette became the GM in 2011.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 7, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      Bmorebirds, I have given Duquette credit for his signings of players from the Far East, but the signings of Chen, Wada and Kim were different because they both signed before the current International Signing Bonus Slot money rules and they would have been old enough to not be subject to them.

      Schoop was signed in 2008, more than three years before Duquette took over.

  6. Lookouts400

    February 7, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Seems signing Sanchez would be a signing for signing’s sake. From the various reports on all the mediums(Prospectus, Baseball America, Fansided, ESPN, even here) doesn’t seem this guy is head and shoulders above what they have already. This Martin kid is also supposed to be a whiz with the glove, with improving offense. Grenier is said to be highly talented and motivated and most of the under the radar depth signings are guys with above average defense. So, the question is, is Sanchez really necessary? One way to look at it, I suppose, is that signing Sanchez, or at least offering him a lot of money, sends a message to the International Market that the Orioles are serious. But is that message worth a couple of million dollars?

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 7, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      We’ll find out shortly, lookouts.

  7. Hallbe62

    February 7, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Sign him at a reasonable price. If they are successful, give him a Spring Training invite with the other 59. Encourage competition at every position including SS.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 7, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      There will be plenty of competition whether he’s signed or not, Hallbe.

  8. Orial

    February 7, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    I echo Lookouts400 comments. It could very well be a signing to let the baseball world know that the O’s are alive and well. That being said the minor league system is relatively bare so adding IF depth isn’t a bad thing. The real Elias/Perez tandem will get a chance to show it’s real meddle in July of 2019,2020,2021.

  9. Bhoffman1

    February 7, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    We finally have a ORGANIZATION.

  10. BirdsCaps

    February 7, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    At this point, I think the birds need to sign someone in the international market. Obviously you don’t want to overpay, but we need to get something in return for all of those moves we made last season. All of the trades that we made for int money, were largely a waste due to the incompetence of the organization to sign the mesas or gaston. So, I guess they’ll have to settle for what is left. Also, with the lack of any sort of minor league depth at SS (except Grenier) they do desparately need a SS.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 7, 2019 at 8:53 pm

      I’m eager to see who’s going to play shortstop, BirdsCaps.

  11. CalsPals

    February 7, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    I think it would be important to show they are players, but overpaying just to do it would make them them look like they don’t really now what they are doing…..don’t do it just to do it…

  12. John in Cincy

    February 8, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    I’m a little puzzled as to why all the focus of international signings seems on Latin players. Aren’t there any from Asia or elsewhere that interest the Orioles?

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