Our AL West rivals, and Silver Boot combatants, the Houston Astros had the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft for a third consecutive year this summer. They used this year's pick to select talented prep LHP Brady Aiken. But, as Ken Rosenthal reports, they might not sign him as they're holding an undisclosed elbow issue over his head in an attempt to reduce his salary bonus so they can sign other players above slot.
The No. 1 pick in 2014 holds a slot bonus value of $7.9 million. Aiken agreed to sign at $6.5 million in June. The Astros had Aiken and his entire family at Minute Maid Park ready to announce his signing when they sprung it on him that they had concerns about his elbow and offered him $5 million. Conveniently, the Astros realized it would take about $1.5 million to convince 21st-round pick Mac Marshall to sign and back out of his commitment to LSU.
Since then, things have soured and now Aiken's agent Casey Close is crying foul, as Rosenthal writes.
"We are extremely disappointed that Major League Baseball is allowing the Astros to conduct business in this manner with a complete disregard for the rules governing the draft and the 29 other clubs who have followed those same rules," said Close, who serves as a family advisor to Aiken.
This could potentially affect the Rangers in that Texas is playing so horribly that they're in the running for a top pick in the 2015 draft. However, if the Astros don't come to terms with Aiken, and as their latest official offer is above the required 40% of slot, the Astros would receive the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft -- in addition to whichever pick they land for the 2014 season -- as compensation for not signing Aiken.
That could produce a scenario where the Rangers have their worst season in decades and fail to receive a top two pick because they Astros are throwing shade at a 17-year-old kid. For what it's worth, MLB.com's Jim Callis believes the Astros have to have real concern that something is wrong with Aiken's elbow for things to have gotten to this point:
Re Aiken: Have to think @Astros believe concerns are real. Can't see them concocting a plan to be shady. Medical reports so subjective.— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 15, 2014
So, are the Astros just pulling an A.J. Preller-Jairo Beras special or do they have legit concern that the player the drafted is damaged goods? Nolan Ryan might have to dome a dude.