Losing ground in race for stars
Potential signing of Mesa brothers could set tone for rebuilding job by Orioles
The Orioles are in a precarious position when it comes to Cuban outfielders Victor Victor Mesa and his brother, Victor Mesa Jr., who worked out last week in Miami in front of several clubs and represent the crown jewels of the international free-agent market.
In the first offseason of the Orioles’ rebuild, the two young Cuban stars have come to represent much to the club’s fan base, so failure in landing them won’t start the winter off on a good note. That is becoming more possible as the Miami Marlins amass international bonus slots to rival the Orioles’ pool of hypothetical money.
Whatever financial advantage the Orioles had in the race to sign the Mesa brothers appeared to evaporate when the Marlins, their nearest competitor in the market for the Cuban stars, made a pair of trades this week to boost their own pool of international bonus slot money. They acquired bonus money in trades with the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals that bring them to $6 million, according to The Athletic. The Orioles are at around $6.7 million, the highest pool available. But the Marlins have closed the gap.
Entering the Mesas’ workout in Miami, the Orioles had plenty going for them. At the All-Star break — when then-executive vice president Dan Duquette announced a shift in focus from the present-day major league club to a host of other areas, including the club’s neglected international signing structure — they were a bit behind the curve with this year’s top international prospects.
The Orioles began this year with $5.5 million as a team that got a Competitive Balance Round A draft pick, traded Brad Brach to the Atlanta Braves for $250,000 in