BALTIMORE -- Now what? As news leaked out Tuesday morning that the Rays had agreed to a $2.6 million deal with 16-year-old Cuban right-hander Sandy Gaston (pending a physical), the Orioles -- with $6.5 million to spend -- have missed out on signing the trio of top international players available
BALTIMORE -- Now what? As news leaked out Tuesday morning that the Rays had agreed to a $2.6 million deal with 16-year-old Cuban right-hander Sandy Gaston (pending a physical), the Orioles -- with $6.5 million to spend -- have missed out on signing the trio of top international players available this month.
Cuban outfielders Victor Victor Mesa and his brother Victor Mesa Jr. were signed by the Marlins and unveiled in a press conference on Monday. According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, Victor Victor will receive about $5.25 million, and his younger brother agreed to $1 million. Baltimore was interested in all three players and, given its large bonus pool available, seemed like a likely destination for any or all of the big three.
How did they miss out? And where do the Orioles go from here? Let's break it down.
Can they allocate the money elsewhere?
No. The $6.5 million -- far and away the most in the Majors -- is international bonus pool money they are allowed to spend. It isn't just cold hard cash that they can use on Major League free agents or to pump up scouting and analytics.
The O's had just as much money as the Marlins. Why couldn't they swing a deal?
The Marlins, seen as the O's stiffest competition for the Mesa brothers, made some late trades to beef up their pool. But it's important to note, especially when it comes to the Gaston signing by the Rays, that this wasn't just about money.
Both the Marlins and Rays have significant staff on the ground and have built relationships on the international front. If the money was close, it's an easy sell to go with an organization that is more established on the international front. Without a general manager, an international scouting director or a real plan in place, the Orioles were behind the eight ball. Yes, they sent quite a contingent to a tryout earlier this month. But it appears that was too little, too late.
Does the money expire? Can't they just hang on for the next wave of top guys?
They can use that $6.5 million until June 15, when the current international signing period ends. However, all the big-ticket items are off the board. Gaston and the Mesa brothers were the big gets this time around. There's not going to be some big prospect name emerge in January or something of that nature.
Given that, it would be tough to trade that bonus pool money, since other teams wouldn't want to pump up their bonus pool without a big market to spend it on. This was Baltimore's last chance to make a big splash in the international market, which is something the Orioles have ignored over the years and have pledged to change.
Is there a silver lining?
Perhaps. While they weren't able to use the funds to make a big splash, there are still plenty of players the Orioles could sign with that money. Given that all of the smaller signings remain available, the O's could restock their system easily with the $6.5 million. There are an estimated 1,200 players signed during each international signing period. There may be no more big-ticket items, but that money could still be of use. There are a lot of players out there, but Baltimore needs an international scouting director, a general manager and a plan to start capitalizing on that.
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.