The Orioles traded a portion of their massive pool of allotted international signing bonus money to the Texas Rangers for right-hander David Lebron, the team announced Sunday.
Lebron, 25, was a 26th-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers last year who had a 1.31 ERA over two levels after the Rangers selected him out of the University of Tampa.
Lebron is the second player acquired for international signing bonus money since the new front office took over under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, who inherited the largest amount of pool money left for 2018-2019 after Dan Duquette acquired $2.75 million in a pair of trades from the Atlanta Braves on top of their initial pool of $5.5 million in allotted money.
The Orioles got back into the international market, albeit late, in the most significant way they have in years during the current signing period, with over $1 million in bonuses paid out to a half-dozen players from the previous regime.
Their failure to sign three of the prized Cuban free agents that came on the market — outfielders Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr., plus right-hander Sandy Gaston — left them with the biggest bonus pool entering the winter, and the club is keeping tabs on Cuban free agent shortstop Yolbert Sanchez, who became eligible to sign earlier this month. Texas has also scouted him.
New senior director of international scouting Koby Pérez said the remaining money, which was reduced some by a pair of trades with the Philadelphia Phillies last year, could be used on late-bloomers.
But Elias has often reminded that the bonus pool slots only allow the Orioles to spend the money without penalty, and the actual cash itself could be used on a variety of things as he looks to upgrade everything from scouting and analytics to player development in the organization.
"It's not really money," Elias said at FanFest. "It's the right to spend money. ... We have a lot. And the reality is the way the market works down there, a lot of these players are spoken for and sort of committed to sign in certain organizations long before the July 2 signing period. The types of preparation that you need to sign players takes place two years in advance.
"We are in a position right now where we have a lot of money, and the simple reality is it's going to be difficult to spend a great deal of this money in a smart way. We don't want to just blow it."