Houston Astros: What Was Team Thinking With Brady Aiken?

By Steve Ungrey
Brady Aiken Astros
Rich Schultz — Getty Images

My colleague at Rant Sports, Jacob Dennis, wrote a story on Friday about the five things you can take away from the Houston Astros failing to sign Brady Aiken, its top draft pick of 2014.

I take only one thing away. This organization is cheap.

The Astros have been regarded by many teams as an organization that is getting the rebuilding process right. While the Texas Rangers, their neighbors to the northwest, have been sliding through a rotten season, the Lone Star State’s other baseball team has quietly put together a squad that has some budding future stars like Jonathan Singleton and George Springer and strong pitchers like Dallas Keuchel.

All that went down Friday doesn’t change the team’s upward trajectory, but you have to wonder if the right leadership team is in charge.

Aiken had some potential elbow issues. That’s fine. A team is permitted to raise a few questions here and there when it sees these red flags. Here’s one big issue, however. You drafted Aiken. He was permitted to take a $6.5 million bonus, the largest bonus that could be given out in the draft for the top pick. Instead, the Astros whittled the bonus down to over $3 million before the signing deadline came and went on Friday.

Really, Astros? You passed up on a potential pitcher over $3 million. And the worst thing is the team gets another high pick next year, a chance to do this all again.

I’m waiting for someone to tell me the Astros are a small market team, that their payroll can’t support decisions like this. Don’t give me that. Houston is one of the largest cities in the country. All of this big-market-small-market talk came about from people that wanted the game to have a salary cap to level the playing field.

The last I checked, the Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates were doing just fine in the game’s current economic structure. There is no excuse for the Astros to pretend anymore.

The last two No. 1 picks the Astros drafted, Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, haven’t been effective. Give them time. Eventually the light will turn on. There is a quality roster here. Sports Illustrated didn’t put the Astros on its cover as the 2017 World Series winner just for giggles. This team has a lot of talent.

It’s just a shame general manager Jeff Luhnow can’t seem to stop pinching those pennies.

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