Three Quick Takeaways from the Astros’ Failure to Sign Aiken and Nix
1. Jacob Nix really got hosed.
If the facts are correct and both sides agreed to a deal ($1.5 million) without qualifiers (i.e., he was never told that the deal was contingent upon Aiken’s signing) and Nix passed his physical (which is typically the last step before signing on the dotted line), then the fact that he ultimately was not signed is downright shameful.
2. The Astros Doth Protest Too Much?
Every year, some early draft picks do not get signed. This is especially true when the situation involves a high school player with a college commitment. For this reason, I find it odd that Jeff Lunhow feels the need to keep reminding everyone that the negotiations occurred “in good faith” and that the Astros “are adhering to the rules at every point and we are confident that this has been the case.” He told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, “We did nothing unethical, we did nothing disingenuous.” If the Astros have truly been on the up-and-up, what’s with the need to constantly tell everyone so? Continuously hearing these comments, all I can picture in my head is the end of A Few Good Men:
3. The Potential Fallout for the Astros
Clark’s statement is as follows: “Today, two young men should be one step closer to realizing their dreams of becoming Major League ballplayers. Because of the actions of the Houston Astros, they are not. The MLBPA, the players and their advisers are exploring all legal options.” In other words, the MLBPA is not happy with the Astros.
Casey Close, the family adviser for both Aiken and Nix, has been quiet since his statements about the situation two days ago, which is not unusual as Close is not known for firing salvos during contract negotiations. Close is, however, a very well-respected agent who consistent represents star players in the league, as noted by former Major League pitcher, Brian Bannister:
Thank goodness Casey Close doesn’t represent any other good current or future MLB stars.
— Brian Bannister (@RealBanny) July 18, 2014
Bannister’s point is well-taken.
Regardless of whether the Astros abided by all the rules or whether any legal options are available, the reputation of this team’s front office may be irreparably damaged. For what amounted to a difference of $1.5 million (purportedly, the Astros last offer was for $5 million), the Astros failed to sign the top pick in the 2014 draft, have labeled Aiken as damaged goods, alienated the MLBPA, angered a well-respected agent who will surely represent (read: advise) future draft picks, and caused future draft picks to be leery of the team’s negotiating tactics.
At worst, the Astros look every bit the incompetent organization with back-to-back-to-back 100-loss seasons. At best, the Astros’ front office comes away looking like a calculated group who tried to take advantage of the drafting rules and wound up being too smart for their own good.