The Major League Baseball Players Association has officially filed a grievance against the Houston Astros for “manipulating the draft system” after not signing their first-overall pick in the draft, Brady Aiken. By not signing Aiken to a contract, the Astros lost their total amount of money available for the first-round slot that totaled to $7.9 million. Since they lost their money allowed for signing their first-round pick, they were also not able to afford their fifth-round pick Jacob Nix, whom they had already agreed to a contract with, and their 21st-round pick Mac Marshall, both high school pitchers. Even though the grievance has been filed, the Astros have little to worry about.
The Astros have kept MLB in the loop for the entire process of the negotiations with Aiken. There are going to be no surprises that come to light in determining if Aiken and the other two pitchers were correctly dealt with by the rules that govern the process of the MLB Draft. The Astros will have nothing to worry about, as the filing of the grievance is, in a sense, a formality and exactly what the MLBPA is supposed to do for its players. The only thing the Astros have to do is show proof of their fears in Aiken’s elbow.
General manager Jeff Luhnow has been on record saying that their last offer was for $5 million and they never heard a response back. In fact, several of their last few offers went to voicemail because Aiken and his advisor, Casey Close, refused to take the Astros’ calls. This also works in the Astros’ favor because there was an attempt all the way through the process to get a deal done. If the team has MRI’s that show the ulnar collateral ligament in Aiken’s elbow to be smaller than normal, the Astros have an almost 100% chance to walk away without any wrong doings.
The entire case will be decided on if the Astros have proof for the reasons they claimed to have not come to a deal with their first pick in this years draft. If they didn’t, they would have signed him to the original contract agreed upon. Otherwise, all of this would have been pointless because they would lose their compensation pick in next year’s draft. Both sides are quiet due to the ramifications of the law that could occur by talking about the case publicly.
It would be hard for me to believe the Astros wouldn’t hold their word on a $6.5 million contract for a left-handed pitcher out of high school that already throws in the mid-90s. The Astros are rebuilding and Aiken would have surely helped with that. The team isn’t purposely going to set their depth back a season just to save a couple of million. The threat of a serious injury had to be real, which is why Aiken is not with the Astros today.