The deadline to sign 2014 draft picks has passed and the Houston Astros were unable to reach an agreement with #1 overall pick Brady Aiken. In addition, the club was unable to sign fifth round pick Jacob Nix and 21st rounder Mac Marshall.
The Astros backed down from their original offer of $6.5 million when they discovered what they determined to be an abnormality with Aiken’s ulnar collateral ligament. The team then (according to Aiken’s camp) reduced their offer to the minimum amount allowed by the collective bargaining agreement — in the neighborhood of $3.16 million (still a nice neighborhood). Last minute efforts by the Astros to renegotiate fell on deaf ears.
“We tried to engage Casey Close three times today … there was no interest” — GM Jeff Luhnow tells the Chronicle
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) July 18, 2014
Astros fans have taken today’s news pretty hard. Some have gone as far as to call for the firing of Jeff Luhnow. Baseball people have also been critical of the Astros handling of the situation. Jeff Passan had this to say:
There is no other way to put it: Without signing Brady Aiken or others, this draft was a complete and unequivocal disaster for the Astros. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 18, 2014
But Passan later hedged his bet, adding:
Similar situation in ’13 with Marlins. Didn’t like Matt Krook MRI. Offered 40% to keep draft pick. He rejected, went to Oregon. Elbow blew.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 18, 2014
So, there is a precedent — albeit not with a 1:1 pick. And I’m not going to bash the Astros for what happened. They tried to sign Aiken for what they thought was a fair deal and kept trying to negotiate until the bitter end. The unfortunate fallout is the fact that both Jacob Nix and Mac Marshall got away when the club lost that slot money. It’s another dark day for the Astros, but not the end of the world. And it’s back to the drawing board for Luhnow to find another way to accelerate the rebuild in light of what has happened.