I know the frustrated Baltimore Orioles fan base had already developed a mad baseball crush on 22-year-old Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa. Once he and his brother, 17-year-old outfielder Victor Mesa Jr., had been snatched up by the Miami Marlins, the fan base became immediately enamored with 16 year-old pitching phenom Sandy Gaston.
Now that Gaston has been signed by the Tampa Bay Rays, what are the Orioles going to do with the more than $6 million dollars they had amassed to sign the best available international players?
That truly does become the $6 million question in Baltimore. For those not totally familiar with the ins and outs of how that pool works, the $6 million-plus dollars the Orioles hold is still available to spend through June 15, 2019, after which there's a reset. Whatever cap room the Orioles have -- this is, after all, not real money, but a limit of how much you can spend during this international signing period -- can't be spent after that date. The new international signing period begins July 2, 2019.
Gone is the Orioles' dream scenario of signing the best international player on the market in Victor Victor Mesa and the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, possibly Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. You talk about jump-starting a rebuild. Signing both of those players would have immediately thrust the Orioles' minor league system into the top 10 by next June.
But that dream died hard and fast.
The question is: Did the Orioles' search for new upper management heads -- a president of baseball operations and general manager -- cost Baltimore a real shot at reeling in one of the big fish?
We may never know the answer, just like we may never know how different and advanced this rebuild would look like if the Orioles had dealt the major league assets they had on hand in June or July 2017.
That brings me back to how Orioles fans should feel right now. Frustration is certainly a reasonable emotion right now for those who still bleed orange and black.
I know former Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is going to be blamed for much of where the club stands right now, but he is a well-respected baseball man and mind. It was always my clear understanding Duquette didn't necessarily agree with majority owner Peter Angelos' view of the resources required to effectively scout and sign international players.
Duquette's view was if the team couldn't spend to scout properly, the entire investment on high-end players in Latin America would be a waste unless the team developed the necessary relationships needed to cultivate the acquisition of truly premium talent.
Duquette made a flurry of trades in July, some of which were aimed at acquiring actual talent while others were made to lower the big league payroll to a more practical level for now. But the trades were also aimed at acquiring the necessary dollars to become a player in this international signing period.
The $6 million-plus dollars won't go to any one star prospect. But once new people are chosen and put in place, there's a chance they figure out creative ways to utilize a substantial amount of this pool money before it goes away.
Another emotion to have right now if you are an Orioles fan is hope -- hope that John and Louis Angelos get these next two key hires right and set sail with the headwinds pulling them in the right direction.
If these hires are as good as I am hoping they will be, the deadline deals and missing out on Victor Victor Mesa and Gaston will merely look like a small patch of choppy waters that will be smoothed over by the grand scheme.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox