July 25 update: The team denies ever offering $2 million or more to Gastón, as originally reported.
Sandy Gastón was supposed to be the Marlins’ top amateur pitcher signing this summer. Still just 16 years old, the Cuban right-hander flaunts a high-90s fastball, and by his own admission, wanted to join the Fish (h/t Alfredo Alvarez, Con las Bases Llenas).
But their agreement has fallen through, according to SiriusXM’s Craig Mish and Daniel Álvarez Montes of EvTV. Gastón tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, forcing the Marlins to renege on
a $2 million-plus their original offer. It’s still somewhat unclear where negotiations went from there, but the two sides couldn’t find common ground after that discovery.
Sources indicate Marlins were interested in Cuban P Sandy Gaston. At some point I’m told by multiple sources he tested positive for a PED, at which point Marlins either lowered their offer or withdrew it entirely.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) July 24, 2018
MLB.com considered Gastón the fourth-best available pitcher during the 2018-19 international signing period, which began July 2 and continues through June 15. He ranked as the No. 14 overall prospect.
Even before this news Tuesday morning, there were already concerns about the Marlins/Gastón situation. It’s typical for highly regarded amateurs to commit to their new teams immediately; for context, the other 29 prospects featured in MLB.com’s top 30 are locked up.
The silver lining for the Fish is that whatever money they had earmarked for Gastón can now go toward ensuring a deal gets done with outfielder Víctor Víctor Mesa. The 22-year-old is considered the top amateur out there, but still awaits to be declared an eligible free agent by Major League Baseball after defecting from Cuba.