Baltimore Orioles: Will the O’s make a serious push for Yolbert Sanchez?
Welcome to baseball season, Baltimore Orioles fans!
For those of you who didn’t stay up last night, no, the Baltimore Orioles didn’t win the Super Bowl. Assuming things stay the way they are, the Orioles aren’t winning the Super Bowl anytime soon. The same goes for World Series championships, but as long as the Red Sox don’t win again this year, we’ll probably be fine.
As of today, there are eight days remaining before the Orioles’ pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota. The Orioles still have a lot of work to do if they want to make this roster a competitive one, but they’ve shown no signs of that this offseason and we’re not holding our breath.
There may be a free-agent signing left in the cards, maybe a starting pitcher or a bullpen piece, but there likely won’t be any blockbusters. The one move that the Orioles could potentially make to stir up some excitement in Birdland would be signing Cuban defector Yolbert Sanchez.
Sanchez will officially become able to sign with major league teams tomorrow, and the Orioles should be among the teams most avidly vying for his services. Sanchez is a 22-year-old shortstop with a polished glove, and would likely slot into the high minors upon arrival.
Sanchez most recently played for Industriales de la Habana of the Cuban league and according to Baseball Reference, has hit .297/.338/.345 with limited power and speed over the past three years. I’ve got no reason to mistrust Baseball Reference, but stats from foreign leagues aren’t always the most reliable and there aren’t complete records for the league. Take the slash line with a grain of salt.
The consensus on Sanchez seems to be that he’s an above-average defender and base-runner with a good chance of sticking at shortstop defensively. There are concerns about the hit tool, especially considering that at 22, he’s on the older side. But overall, Sanchez is a strong prospect.
Fangraphs’ prospect writers Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel wrote in detail about Sanchez’s potential right after he was cleared to sign with a major league team, and the post contains video of Sanchez playing for Industriales, if you’re interested.
What’s more, the Baltimore Orioles have significantly more international bonus pool money available than any other major league team. The O’s have roughly $6 million available, compared to the second-highest team, the Dodgers, who have around $1.4 million. If the Orioles want to sign Sanchez, they should be able to.
The main argument against Sanchez is that he isn’t an elite prospect. Elite or not, he’s the best prospect available, and the Orioles have a clear need for middle infield depth at all levels of the organization. The Orioles may not have expected to spend on international prospects before the next signing period, but the market has changed, with Sanchez unexpectedly joining late.
The Orioles brought in new International Scouting Director Koby Perez earlier this year for a reason. The organization needs to start making itself a player in the international market, and they have the required bonus pool money available to make a serious push for Sanchez. This needs to happen.