The Houston Astros made news this past week by becoming only the third team in major league history to not sign the first-overall pick in the MLB draft. The relationship between the Astros and left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken had spoiled recently after the Astros found — after and MRI on his elbow — that Aiken’s UCL was smaller than a normal UCL. This made the Astros want to renegotiate with the high school lefty because they felt he was now more likely to have an injury to his elbow in the future. The two sides were at a stalemate and the deal didn’t get done.
The Astros were right not to sign Aiken to the $6.5 million bonus if they felt he was an injury risk after what they saw in the MRI. They offered Aiken $5 million — which he turned down — which is a very large sum of money for an 18-year-old pitcher with no certainty as to how his future will unfold. If Aiken wanted to play baseball for the Astros, he could have taken the money. Now he risks getting injured in college with no signing bonus to fall back on.
Anyone who thinks this is the Astros being cheap is ridiculous and clearly has not been paying attention to what they are trying to do. The Astros are building a winner. They had every intention of signing him to the original contract until they found out about his elbow issue. Would you pay full price for a car that you had previously believed to be in perfect condition, only to find out that there is a major recall that isn’t covered in your warranty? I certainly wouldn’t.
That is not only bad business, its flat-out dumb. The Astros are in the business of building a winner, and that doesn’t involve throwing money and a draft pick away for a potential injury risk to their top selection because it’s what is “fair” to him. Life isn’t fair, and neither is business. If Aiken wanted to play badly enough, he should have accepted the $5 million and not cut off negotiations with the Astros like a pouty child giving his parents the silent treatment after he didn’t get the toy he was promised at the toy store.
Now the Astros will have the second pick in next year’s draft that has a couple of pitchers with top of the rotation talent. Combine that with the pick they will receive in finishing near the bottom of the league this season, and the Astros may be better off than if they had signed a healthy Aiken.