Latest On Astros And Brady Aiken, Jacob Nix

AUG. 27, 4:51pm: The Astros are highly unlikely to be afforded any chance to sign Aiken, a source tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The source also expressed the belief that Selig must have been referring to Nix.

Given the present state of confusion, it should be noted that Aiken could at least theoretically be seeking to receive some accommodation from the league that would not be directly tied to Houston’s own rights, obligations, and interests moving forward. That hypothetical possibility would potentially square reports that the club is not talking with the first overall choice with Selig’s comment that a “solution” of some kind is being pursued.

4:03pm: There are no current discussions between the Astros and Aiken, according to a report from Jon Heyman of On the other hand, Houston is working to reach agreement on some sort of deal with Nix before his grievance hearing, Heyman says.

Heyman suggests that Selig may have misunderstood the question he was asked — which referred specifically to Aiken — when he said that some “solution” to the Aiken situation was in the works. On the other hand, it is worth noting that Selig said no grievance action had been filed, which is (so far as has been reported) true with respect to Aiken but not Nix.

2:35pm: Commissioner Bud Selig was in San Diego yesterday for the opening of the Padres’ Hall of Fame plaza — named Selig Plaza — and was asked by Jennifer Jensen of 10 News whether or not Aiken had been granted an extension on his signing window:

“We’re working on that right now. There are a lot of things in movement there so it would be inappropriate for me to comment, but I would say we are working towards a hopeful solution.”

Asked a second time, Selig again refused to confirm or deny that an extension had been granted, but he repeated that they are “working toward a solution.” Selig did reveal that no grievance has been filed yet by Aiken’s camp. While his comments are somewhat vague, the commissioner did not shoot down the possibility that Aiken could still reach a deal with the Astros. As Jim Callis of Baseball America points out (on Twitter), it seems fair to assume that the other 29 teams in the league would be none too pleased to see Aiken strike a deal with Houston well beyond the signing deadline.

AUG. 21, 11:46am: “There’s nothing to report, nothing going on there,” Astros owner Jim Crane tells Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link) in regards to a possible Aiken deal.

11:25am: The Astros could still end up signing first overall draft pick Brady Aiken, and “the expectation from those close to the negotiation” is that the two sides will reach an agreement around the time of Jacob Nix‘s grievance hearing, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reports (Twitter links).  The MLBPA filed the grievance on Nix’s behalf last month, and the hearing will reportedly be held during the offseason.

As McDaniel puts it, the possibility of Aiken inking a deal beyond the July 18th deadline for signing draft picks is an “MLB’s discretion situation.”  It had been presumed that Houston had forfeited their right to sign Aiken (plus Nix and 21st-rounder Mac Marshall) when they couldn’t reach agreements with any of the players by July 18th.  In failing to sign Aiken, the Astros received the second overall pick in the 2015 draft as compensation.

Aiken had a verbal agreement in place with the Astros just a few days after he was selected as the #1 pick in the 2014 draft, but no official deal was finalized due to the team’s concerns over Aiken’s unusually small UCL, a detail discovered during a post-draft physical.  This led Houston to drop their offer from the agreed-upon $6.5MM bonus (which was already over $1.4MM below the assigned slot price of the first overall pick) to $5MM.  This set off a chain reaction that caused the Astros to pull their $1.5MM agreement with Nix off the table, as signing Nix at that price would’ve put the Astros over their draft pool limit and put them in danger of facing penalties such as the loss of two future first-round picks.

Needless to say, it would be surprising to see Aiken wind up wearing Astros orange given the harsh words that Casey Close (the agent for both Aiken and Nix) had for the organization and GM Jeff Luhnow in the wake of the controversy.  As it stands, Aiken would have to either attend a junior college and re-enter the draft next year or commit to a college and not be able to turn pro for three more years.  It’s possible the high schooler is simply eager to begin his professional career and/or wants some financial security now, given that anything could happen to lower his stock over the next 1-3 years.

For the Astros, signing Aiken would help the team save face after it was widely criticized for its handling of the situation.  Aiken has until September 1 to file a grievance himself, though that deadline could be extended.

51 Responses to Latest On Astros And Brady Aiken, Jacob Nix Leave a Reply

  1. Guest 12 months ago

    Rob Manfred, you’re off to a great start. First you change policies for allowing teams to scout international players, then you award the Astros the opportunity to re-negotiate with a failed draft pick.

    • Karkat 12 months ago

      Manfred isn’t commissioner until next January

    • Tony 12 months ago

      Bud Selig is the commissioner until his contract runs out on January 24, 2015.

  2. bigbadjohnny 12 months ago

    MLB Rules is like a Cubs line up… changes every day.

    • Eric Cramer 12 months ago

      You can thank the Giants for that. Always crying for a rule change. Buster Posey rule, suspended games, you name it. They complain and moan almost as much as the Cardinals.

      • JimEdmondsMVP 12 months ago

        The Complain & Moan Cards were when they had TLR ( now in AZ) & Chris Carpenter (retired/ special asst. to G.M.) The only complaining you’ll hear these days is Matheny about Taveras & Cards fans complaining about hiring Matheny.

        • FromDuke2Joc
          Sean Casey 12 months ago

          Matheny is always complaining. Lucroy and the Dodgers pitching are two of the more recent targets.

          • JimEdmondsMVP 12 months ago

            Don’t look at me, I’m of of those Cards fans complaining about Matheny, though I do admit that I forgot those 2 particular incidents.

  3. Karkat 12 months ago

    I never really understood why Aiken turned down the $5mil anyway. Sure it was less than the 6.5, but he had to consider: 1) if his stock lowers AT ALL, he stands to probably make less in a future draft and 2) starting his professional career earlier gives him more earning potential down the road. In particular, if you sign earlier then there’s a greater chance that you’re in the majors for more of your 20’s, which is where the big pitching money can come from. I didn’t understand it when Appel held out either; it felt like the extra year lost wasn’t worth the increase in bonus he ultimately got (esp. if you consider that Houston was reportedly willing to give him essentially the same bonus the previous year).

    Also at this point it’d be wicked awkward for Appel or Nix to show up with the Astros, wouldn’t it?

    • Dave W. 12 months ago

      As it was reported anyway, the offer was really about $3.5m, and only with 5 minutes left to negotiate is when the Astros made their final offer of $5m. At that point, the agent (and I assume his client) didn’t feel they wanted to sign with that organization for that price. I still would be surprised to see Aiken end up in Houston after all of this that has gone on. I have yet to hear what Aiken plans to do with himself (UCLA, junior college, independent league?).

      • essmeier 12 months ago

        Even if you’re ticked off at the Astros, it’s tough leaving a seven figure amount on the table, especially when every team in MLB now knows that Aiken may have a problem with his UCL. Sure, a few teams might be willing to take a chance on him, even with the possible UCL issue, but who is going to do it at a price that’s north of $5 million?

        • Dave W. 12 months ago

          I agree the $5m deal seemed reasonable in light of what appear to be some legitimate medical concerns about his UCL. I’m guessing pride got in the way when the offer came in late in the game, and what’s sad is that it might’ve been the pride of the agent and not the player that led to him not signing. Everything I hear is that Aiken is a stand-up guy with Cole Hamels-like talent (another San Diegan), and it would be nice to him beginning his career this summer in pro ball.

        • jb226 11 months ago

          I would, easy. $5MM is nothing for the possibility of controlling a 1-1 talent for six years.

    • Teufelshunde4 12 months ago

      Should Aiken taken a bad deal? Or let the Astro’s go back on the verbal agreement based solely on a disputed scan? A scan that showed no injury BTW. And conveniently got leaked to the press..

      Would you agree to take a job at a negotiated salary only to have new employer reduce that salary by almost 50% and still want to work for them?
      I do not get the hate for Aiken standing up for himself..

      • Karkat 12 months ago

        I’m just questioning whether or not it was actually the best financial move for him. 5 million is a lot, especially if the inconsistency in the MRI actually IS something significant.

      • Derpy 12 months ago

        He isn’t standing up for himself, he is working against his own personal interests. This is like Bo Jackson, only without a plan B. Aiken could easily have ended his major league career before it ever had a chance to start. If he blows out his elbow this coming year, which is a massive risk for any pitcher, then he will be finished. No pay day, no collecting $200 for passing go, nothing.

        • Teufelshunde4 12 months ago

          But a blown out elbow isnt a career ender anymore.. Shoulder yes…
          IM sorry, but we will disagree when you think its wrong for him to refuse to take a bad deal and bet on himself.

          • SCarton12 12 months ago

            OK, so a TJS isn’t a career ender, but as a team you wind up losing 1-2 years of a players development and take the 15% chance that a player will not be the same. I don’t blame the Astros and 5 million dollars is still a ton of money, which fans seem to have lost sight of in this monopoly game of MLB.

          • 108 stitches 11 months ago

            We should all look at 3.5 million as the final offer. Looking over the last contract at 5 million is impossible with 5 minutes to go. I take longer in the little boys room for crying out loud. That was nothing but a PR move by the Astros.

          • wwnw 11 months ago

            The last report I heard/read was that TJS only works for a damaged ligament. Aiken was reported to have a very small ulnar ligament. At this point, doctors can’t repair what is not there. Similar to Dickey’s situation with the Texas.

          • 108 stitches 11 months ago

            True….But Dickey was much older and that worked out ok…….No? He most certainly has provided 5 million dollars worth of value post all of that. Actually much more than 5 million.

          • wwnw 11 months ago

            True, Dickey did provide value.  But only when he learned to throw a knuckle ball.  Look at his career.  Could not even make the pitching staffs of the “dominant” Twins and Mariners.  Couldn’t make the Blue Jays staff, nor his first club, the Rangers.  A knuckle ball takes time to learn.  Drafted in 2001, he never turned his career around until 2011.  If he had not learned the knuckle ball, he would be out of baseball as a player.

  4. PlayBoyBuddy Rose 12 months ago

    Kevin Quackenbush… and somewhere out there… Groucho Marx smiles!…

  5. mstrchef13 12 months ago

    Interesting. If the league will allow the Astros to sign Aiken after the deadline, will they also allow them to sign Nix at the previously-agreed price of $1.5MM?

    • Lefty_Orioles_Fan
      Lefty_Orioles_Fan 12 months ago

      Well, what’s wrong with a something for everybody mentality? =P

  6. bigbadjohnny 12 months ago

    Bud Selig will end up in the HOF…..a guy who was in charge during the Steroid Era and only had to act on it if it was not a threat from the US Congress……..where guys like McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, & Bonds will never be in the HOF because of their steroid usage.

    • Ned L 12 months ago

      It was the MLBPA that fought against PED restrictions and tests.

      • FromDuke2Joc
        Sean Casey 12 months ago

        Yeah and Bud (representing owner’s interests) didn’t fight for tougher testing. They weren’t complaining when guys were somehow leading the league in strike outs, batting under .300 but still able to smash baseball’s biggest records. There’s enough blame for both sides except it’s Bud’s job to protect the game.

    • FamousGrouse 12 months ago

      I hope I can stick an * next to his name.

  7. Mike1L 12 months ago

    A settlement is a smart thing to do. But MLB extending the clock for this one is not. There are no special extenuating circumstances, like a bereavement, or a hurricane. or a visa problem. This would just be a favor, and the more MLB makes special rules for special situations, the more it risks the legitimacy of the office of Commissioner. Maybe this is something Bud would do as he leaves, but it would be a terrible starting point for Manfred.

    • FromDuke2Joc
      Sean Casey 12 months ago

      I wanted to see the ‘Stros sign all 3 of the young arms but I agree with you this just seems to be rewarding Houston for misplaying their hand.

      • Mike1L 12 months ago

        I could see some face-saving thing, like astros sign all three, and maybe they lose a second round pick next year.

    • jb226 11 months ago

      I hate to say “yeah, holding to the rules is important enough to delay these kids’ futures” — but I agree with you.

      There’s nothing special about this case. Something turned up in his medicals; the team dropped their offer to the limit of what was allowed; the player decided he was unwilling to sign for that (or for their increasing offers as the deadline loomed). None of this screams “offer an extension” to me. Both sides made informed decisions based on their respective criteria.

      It’s sad for Aiken and really sad for Nix, who I believe should absolutely take it to a grievance hearing. But those are the rules, and as you say, I see nothing to indicate an extension is deserved.

      • Mike1L 11 months ago

        Personally, while I think Houston acted badly, Aiken was in control. He could always have taken the $5M offer given at the last minute. I would imagine he was just so angry with the way be had been treated that he couldn’t swallow his pride. He might also have been concerned about how Houston would use him going forward, given the circumstances. I think he made a mistake. Nix is entirely a different matter, and I would root for a successful arb hearing for him.

  8. hozie007 12 months ago

    This was poorly handled by the Astros and Casey Close but it needed to happen for this “loophole” in the draft slotting system to be exposed. There won’t be a solution until the next CBA and is not likely to be solved by the commissioners office since he (Selig) hasn’t resolved grievances dating back to 5 years ago and Manfred has not officially taken office.

  9. Derpy 12 months ago

    If you want to have a “slotting” system, then you need to make the slotting system mandatory. If you’re picked in position 1, you get $x. If you get picked in position 2, you get $y. Or, how about just getting rid of slotting altogether! Either way is better than the current system.

    Oh, and doing physicals before the draft and requiring all players who enter the draft have an agent (the NCAA can go jump in a fire).

    • Mike1L 12 months ago

      Hard slotting systems would probably lead to litigation. I think you dump them

      • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 11 months ago

        Why would it lead to litigation and what would the cause of action be? I see no legal obstacles to a hard slot system.

        • Mike1L 11 months ago

          It’s my opinion that MLB’s anti-trust exemption is going to come under attack at some point, and the facts on the ground in 1928 are no longer true today. While the current Supreme Court makeup clearly sides with business, this might be a very tough case if it were challenged by a class of prospects who claim restraint of trade.

          • Jeff_Todd_MLBTR 11 months ago

            The trouble is that it’s been heard over and over by SCOTUS and, perhaps more importantly, considered by Congress with no action forthcoming. Given that procedural history, and the accompanying doctrines, it’s going to be rather difficult to get the Court to hear a case unless it comes with some unusual enticement.

            My off-the-cuff guess is that some kind of TV issue would have better odds of reaching the high court. Regardless of which vehicle, you’d need to see at least one (maybe a few) circuit courts reach out and decline to follow the broad exemption.

          • Mike1L 11 months ago

            Jeff, I agree that something like regional rights has a better chance of making it up faster. And there’s no way a conservative Congress is going to do anything at this point–and it might be even more difficult for even more pro-labor legislatures to take on powerful business interests such as the teams and the colleges in their districts/states. But I do think that the ruling on the use of college athlete images may be the starting point of an erosion in the shield. The relationship between MLB and the NCAA, the fiction of “advisors” where both MLB and the NCAA know that the arrangement benefits them at the expense of the athlete, etc. just strikes as something that cannot stand permanently.

    • wwnw 11 months ago

      Doing physicals before the draft is fine, but the White Sox would have had to have physicals on Kolek, Rodon, and Aiken, since they did not know who Houston would draft. Go down the list, and you have multiple players with multiple physicals, unless the physicals are independent. And with over 30 draft rounds, how many physicals do you perform? 50? 100? 500?

      • Derpy 11 months ago

        Simple, every player has a physical on May 1st. That is distributed to all 30 teams. Done.

        • wwnw 11 months ago

          That is what I alluded to in having independent physicals. Brady Aiken’s doctor said there was no problem. Obviously Houston’s medical people believed differently. So everyone has a physical. How many 100s of them would need an MRI, like Aiken had performed? That’s a wad of cash. Who pays for that? I would say the owners’ pool their money. I would expect a 7-figure amount, which would be divided among 32 teams. Plausible, but needs independence and organization.

          • Derpy 11 months ago

            No, this is a total nonissue. NFL gets by with no problems, don’t they? Giving players physicals is a nonissue and a total nobrainer.

            Ps of you scale the nfl combine costs to mlb, it comes out to 13mm total. Which I think is an exaggeration. But that’s only 400k per team. Big whoop. Mlb has enough cash to pay for it themselves just using mlb network money. They could change the way they air the draft and add a combine type televised event and use the advertising money to pay a good chunk of that.

  10. Kyle 11 months ago

    I honestly would not be happy if Aiken got to strike a deal with the Astros. The deadline is the deadline and he just needs to be granted free agency and restricted to signing below his slot value. I also think that they should e forced to honor Nix’s deal.

    • Seamaholic 11 months ago

      No way he gets free agency. That would throw the whole amateur draft system into chaos. He gets to reenter the 2015 draft. If MLB had the authority and the guts, what they should do is rescind the Astros compensation pick, which is #2 next year (and might end up being a better player than Aiken.)

      • Benjamin Campagna 11 months ago

        Unless they are forced to actually sign Nix, why should the Astros’ compensation pick be rescinded? That doesn’t make any sense at all. The rules say that if you fail to sign one of your picks in the first two rounds, you get the the pick after that one the following year in compensation. That’s it. With regards to Aiken, the Astros did nothing wrong. Well, except maybe PR-wise, but that has nothing to do with the draft rules; a team with bad press shouldn’t get less compensation than a team with good press, right? The rules are the rules. When the Pirates failed to sign Appel in 2012, no one was clamoring to have their 2013 compensation pick rescinded. This situation isn’t any different, except that Aiken’s agent did a good job of feeding storylines to the media and causing people like you to take biased, emotional stances with regards to the rules.

        With regards to Nix, the Astros shouldn’t be forced to sign him either. Houston is not the only team who offered a draft pick slot who decided to go to school, as the Cardinals’ did not meet the demands of third round pick Trevor Megill this year. Teams draft hard-to-sign players all the time and then fail to meet their demands; why doesn’t anyone make a stink about them? Again, it’s just media showmanship, not the actual rules.

  11. $21621694 11 months ago

    And again… the media thinking that if they say something often and loud enough it will happen. All speculation

    • Scott Thorn 11 months ago

      Yup. Also, Bud Selig being intensely confused about the league that he runs doesn’t help. Good thing he’s on his way out.

  12. Seamaholic 11 months ago

    Unfortunately, they’ll do fine. The player they’ll get at #2 next year will be as good as or better than Aiken, most likely. I hate that rule. They should get a comp pick at the end of the 1st round.

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