Back in May, the news that Victor Mesa's sons, Victor Victor and Victor Jr., left Cuba to pursue their big league dreams sent shockwaves through the international baseball community.And immediately everyone wondered: Which team (or teams) is going to sign them?There have been few answers during the last 2 1/2
Back in May, the news that Victor Mesa's sons, Victor Victor and Victor Jr., left Cuba to pursue their big league dreams sent shockwaves through the international baseball community.
And immediately everyone wondered: Which team (or teams) is going to sign them?
There have been few answers during the last 2 1/2 months and their lives has been mostly mysterious, aside from a few clues displayed on Victor Victor's social media pages.
Here's what we know: Victor Victor Mesa, 22, is considered an outstanding outfield defender with a strong arm. He's a plus runner and scouts like athleticism and pedigree. He made his debut for Matanzas in Cuba's Serie Nacional, the island's top league, at 16. He had three hits, including two doubles, in seven at-bats for Cuba during last year's World Baseball Classic.
Victor Jr., 16, was a star for Cuba's 18U national team and is a switch-hitting outfielder with hitting potential and a decent arm. Their father played almost two decades in Cuba's Serie Nacional starting in the late 1970's, and was a star outfielder for the Cuban national team. He managed in Cuba, Mexico and the 2017 World Baseball Classic team.
Had both brothers been eligible to sign on July 2, Victor Victor would have been the top-ranked prospect on our Top 30 International Prospects list, while Victor Jr. probably would have slotted in the teens.
For now, the players are training, at least part-time, in the Dominican Republic, according to sources. They are preparing for a showcase for all 30 teams at a date to be determined.
Want to know more? Here is a brief FAQ on where things stand with the Mesa brothers.
When will the Mesa brothers become free agents and eligible to sign with a Major League team?
Because of their age and experience, the Mesa brothers are subject to the international-signing guidelines. It is unclear when they will become eligible to sign. They first must establish residency outside of Cuba and the United States and then petition for free agency. And while they are expected to sign during the current period that started July 2 and ends June 15, 2019, it's unknown which stage of the process they are in.
There's a chance one or both could sign during the period that starts July 2, 2019, if they are not cleared or if they chose to wait. If they don't sign until the next signing period, that would change that scope of potential suitors, as there are many teams that have spent most of their bonus pool allotment for the current signing period, but will have a full pool come next July 2.
Who has the most bonus pool available for this signing period?
Social media exploded with speculation that the $1 million in international pool money the Mets acquired from Oakland in the trade for Jeurys Familia would be used to sign Victor Victor when he becomes eligible to sign. The truth is, of the seven teams with the most pool money still available, the Mets rank seventh with approximately $1.3 million remaining.
The teams with more money than the Mets are the Orioles -- who have traditionally stayed out of the Latin American prospect market -- with their full $5.5 million allotment remaining. The Marlins are next with $4.1 million, followed by the Cubs at $3.05 million, the Dodgers at $2.7 million, the Rays at $1.96 million and the Mariners at $1.5 million.
Who is out of the running for the Mesa brothers in the current signing period?
Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, teams that went over their bonus allotment were penalized by being prevented from signing players for more than $300K in the subsequent year or years, depending on the overage. The rules have since changed, and no club is allowed to exceed its allotment, but the offenders under the old CBA were grandfathered in. As a result, the A's, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres, Reds and White Sox cannot sign an individual player for more than $300,000 this period.
The Mesa brothers are expected to command more money than those teams are allowed to pay, so it's fairly safe to assume those clubs do not have a shot if the brothers become eligible and sign before next July.
Who is the favorite to sign Victor Victor Mesa?
Of the traditionally active teams on the international market, the Marlins have the most money to offer, and they have been open about their desire to sign prospects and develop a pipeline of domestic and international talent. What's more, the club was previously linked with Cuban right-handed pitcher Sandy Gaston, ranked No. 14 on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 International Prospects list, for a bonus expected to be within the $1.8 to 2.8 million range, but that deal did not come to fruition, which leaves even more money for a possible Victor Victor acquisition.
At 22, it's reasonable to imagine Victor Victor quickly working his way through the club's Minor League system and playing at Marlins Park, located in the Little Havana section of the city, in a couple of years. Their pursuit of Victor Victor Mesa makes sense on multiple fronts and makes them the favorite.
Which team is the dark horse to sign one or both of the Mesa brothers?
The Orioles. General manager Dan Duquette recently said that there are plans to revamp the club's approach to the international market, and there's no bigger way to reemerge on the international scene than signing top Cuban international prospects once they become available.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.