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Orioles lose out on Cuban outfielders Victor Victor, Victor Mesa Jr.

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

The Orioles will not be signing Cuban outfielders Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr., an industry source confirmed Saturday.

The Mesa brothers, who became the top international prospects available when Major League Baseball declared them amateur free agents last month, are expected to sign with the Miami Marlins, according to multiple reports.

Though the Orioles have missed out on the Mesas, an industry source said they still have interest in Cuban right-hander Sandy Gastón, who worked out with the Mesas at Marlins Park earlier this month.

The Marlins spent the past few weeks amassing international bonus pool allotments to match the estimated $6.7 million the Orioles had available, and ultimately the brothers appear to have chosen Miami over a future in Baltimore — striking a blow to the Orioles’ efforts to increase their presence in the international market.

The Orioles spent their summer acquiring international bonus pool money in trades with the Atlanta Braves for Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day. That, combined with their robust existing bonus allotment, made the Orioles the biggest remaining presence in this year’s signing period after mostly all of this main prizes went off the market when players became eligible July 2.

The Orioles made four significant signings once they announced their intention to return to the international market in earnest, including shortstop Moises Ramirez ($225,000), outfielder Isaac Bellony ($220,000), outfielder Damien Valdez ($200,000) and outfielder J'Rudjeanon Isenia ($125,000). All four are 16 years old, and all but Isenia’s bonus was higher than the team’s top bonus from 2017.

Signing the Mesas would have been an early coup in the Orioles’ return to the international market. But even though the $3 million in bonus allotment from the Gausman trade was a major part of it, so was getting all of O’Day’s salary plus the deferred money on his deal off the Orioles’ books, netting the team nearly $30 million in payroll savings through 2020.

The Orioles can still dedicate a significant amount of their remaining bonus pool to Gastón, who impressed club officials at the Miami workout, or wait to see if any Asian players who qualify for the bonus pool limitations decide to come stateside.

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