10:49pm: Zoellner cost the O’s a fairly hefty $750K in pool money, per Dan Connolly of The Athletic (Twitter link).
3:42pm: The Orioles have acquired minor league first baseman Jack Zoellner from the Phillies in exchange for international bonus pool space, according to an announcement from both clubs. Zoellner was the Phillies’ ninth-round selection in the 2017 draft.
It’s at least a somewhat surprising move for the Orioles, who have a long history of trading away international bonus allotments in exchange for marginal prospects but recently announced their intentions to invest more heavily in the international market. It’s not known how much they’re sending to the Phillies in this deal just yet, though the CBA stipulates that international allotments must be moved in at least $250K increments.
The Orioles entered the day with more international money to spend than any team in baseball, and there have been rumors that they’re planning to make a serious run at top Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa once he’s formally declared a free agent. Today’s swap certainly doesn’t prevent them from doing so, though they’ll now have a bit less money to entice Mesa, who is also said to be a target of the Marlins (the team with the second-most international money remaining).
Zoellner, 24 next month, has yet to advance beyond Rookie ball in parts of two seasons with the Phillies organization. He was hitting .236/.364/.422 with seven homers, five doubles, two triples and nearly as many walks (32) as strikeouts (42) through 195 plate appearances this season. Those numbers have come in a league where the average player is more than three years younger than Zoellner, so presumably the Orioles will want to move him up the ladder sooner rather than later to begin to test him against more advanced competition.
Orioles general manager said in a statement to reporters that the organization believes Zoellner to be “a capable left-handed hitter with good on-base skills and power” (Twitter link via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko).