Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Brady Aiken fiasco revisited

You may remember that last summer there was a brief storm of controversy when the Houston Astros backed out of at least two, maybe three, contract agreements with draftees Brady Aiken (the No. 1 overall pick), Jacob Nix (fifth-round pick) and Mac Marshall (21st round pick).

The Astros insisted the pre-signing physical on Aiken uncovered something wrong in his elbow. Aiken and his advisors are equally adamant that there was nothing significant. The Astros slashed there offer to Aiken -- a move that, had the prep lefty accepted it, would have allowed the team enough leeway in ther draft bonus allotment to sign both Nix and Marshall to overslot deals.

Aiken didn't sign for any amount -- in the final minutes before the deadline the Astros reportedly tried to raise their lowball offer and were simply ignored -- and the Astros didn't sign Nix or Marshall either, because losing Aiken deproved them of the majority of their bonus pool.

Most of the scorn heaped on the Astros was over their reneging on the offer to Nix, who passed his physical. I am, personally, skeptical that the Astros dealt in good faith with these high-schoolers, but that's just my opinion.

On Monday it was reported that the Astros settled with Nix for an unknown figure. Presumably they were afraid the arbitrator in the grievance filed by the players union would determine that they had a valid contract with Nix, and they would be heavily penalized in the coming draft as a result of exceeding their bonus pool.

The Astros get the No. 2 pick in this year's draft as a result of not signing the No. 1 pick last year. Unsigned draftees cannot be drafted again by the same club without their permission; I would expect that there was enough bad blood from last summer's "negotiations" that none of the three will give the Astros that waiver.

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