The Rays appear to be closing in on a deal with Cuban right-hander Sandy Gaston that will pay him a $2.6MM bonus. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald (Spanish-language link) reports that the sides are already in agreement, though Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears (Twitter link) they are still working toward a finalized deal. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweeted last night that the sides were nearing agreement on a deal.
If the contract hits the books, the 17-year-old Gaston will absorb the bulk of Tampa Bay’s remaining international spending pool, which had stood at $3.5MM. It is not entirely clear to what extent the organization’s proximity to Gaston’s homeland played into the decision, but it surely did not hurt their odds.
For their money, the Rays will get a player who was rated as the 24th overall international prospect by Ben Badler of Baseball America. Gaston is best known for his big velocity, which he showed off in a recent showcase for MLB clubs. That’s a loud tool for a young hurler, but Badler also notes that Gaston otherwise lacks polish. His offspeed offerings and ability to consistently command the baseball remain in question, though certainly he has plenty of time to iron things out.
Gaston will join several other highly-regarded players to round out the Tampa Bay recruiting class. Per Badler’s signing tracker, the Rays have also landed 13th overall prospect Alejando Pie as well as four other top-fifty talents and a variety of additional players.
With the news, the Orioles have now missed out on the three top prospects left on the international market — at least, by general reputation. The Marlins recently wrapped up deals with Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr., fellow Cuban players who had held a showcase with Gaston.
It’s a rather curious situation, as the Baltimore organization had prioritized the aggregation of bonus pool availability of late and has a hefty $6.5MM still left to spend, by far the largest sum in baseball. At last look, the club was said still to be chasing Gaston, even as it seeks a new leader for its baseball operations department. Ebro notes that there was close competition for the intriguing young hurler. The Orioles’ back-up plans remain unclear.