Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, July 18, 2014

Calcaterra: The Astros didn’t sign #1 overall pick Brady Aiken

Aiken: “Not On My Way Here”

The signing deadline for players selected in this year’s Rule 4 draft came and went at 5PM Eastern. And the number one overall pick, Brady Aiken, did not sign with the Houston Astros, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com.

If you aren’t up to speed, the Astros selected Aiken with the first overall pick and the parties agreed to a $6.5 million bonus in early June. But following a physical on June 23, the Astros became concerned about something in his left elbow and subsequently offered Aiken $3,168,840. Aiken’s agent, Casey Close, lashed out at the Astros, saying there was nothing wrong with Aiken…

since [the Astros’] offer to Aiken was at least 40% of the his slot value (it was exactly that, actually) they will be given the number two overall pick in next year’s draft as compensation in addition to whatever pick they have…

The practical fallout for Aiken: he has to wait a year [if he goes to junior college or the independent leagues] or maybe three [if he goes to college] to cash in and when he does it’s unlikely that he’ll do as well as he was set to do this year. And many, depending on how much stock they put in the Astros’ word on Aiken’s health, may consider him damaged goods.

The practical fallout for the Astros, they will be without a top pick. This, a year after their 2013 top pick, Mark Appel, has struggled mightily. More significantly, may have their reputation among agents and future draft picks substantially damaged. Casey Close is not a bomb-thrower. That he was as angry with the team as he has been suggests some seriously toxic dealings between the parties.

The District Attorney Posted: July 18, 2014 at 05:43 PM | 71 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, brady aiken, craig calcaterra, draft

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. JJ1986 Posted: July 18, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4753933)
An awful lot of reporters seem to be assuming that the Astros were in the wrong here.
   2. TerpNats Posted: July 18, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4753935)
Next year's top three draft picks may all belong to teams from the Lone Star state.
   3. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 18, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4753947)
An awful lot of reporters seem to be assuming that the Astros were in the wrong here


What, you don't think they ruined their draft this year giving up their most valuable two picks just to dick w/Aiken?
   4. Swedish Chef Posted: July 18, 2014 at 06:47 PM (#4753953)
An awful lot of reporters seem to be assuming that the Astros were in the wrong here.

It didn't work out very well for them, so they must have done something wrong. Or maybe Crane likes having all the money in his pocket and it went exactly as planned.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:00 PM (#4753959)
40% of slot to "keep" the pick in the next year's draft? That's absurdly low.

I hope it works out for Aiken, kid was put in a tough spot.
   6. JRVJ Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:10 PM (#4753964)
This doesn't look good for anybody.

It's very unlikely that Aiken will be able to get $5MM in 2015 or a future draft (unless he's a top 3 pick AND he really doesn't have a medical issue. On yesterday's Effectively Wild, somebody was mentioning something along the lines of Dickey: either there's a non-existent or only partially existent ligament in Aiken's elbow).

From the Astros standpoint, they've lost a year. Next year the 1-2 pick could be as good a talent as Aiken (doubtful), but that player will be one year further away from the Majors, so the Astros will be without any real reinforcements for that while.

And apparently, Nix and Marshall were good talents, that would have strongly improved the Astros' rebuilding plan. Now it could be that the Astros have pushed everything back a year due to the injury to Correa and the lack of success for Appel, but that's a VERY risky strategy to take.

The one good thing here is that this was such a bad perfect storm scenario for MLB, that there's a chance (a small one, but bigger than before) that MLB will make amends to its drafting structure/rules.
   7. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:19 PM (#4753967)
The Astros were willing to pay Nix and Marshall $1.5m each, meaning they were solid 2nd round pick level talent. If they had signed Aiken, they would have had a #1 overall pick, a sandwich pick and 3 Second rounders.

Now they have a sandwich pick & a single 2nd rounder left out of that group. That massive loss demonstrates how terrified they were of Aikens MRI.
   8. Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4753972)

More likely, it tells us the Astros overplayed their hand. Their last offer to Aiken was reportedly $5M, not the minimum $3-plus million offer necessary to get a comp pick next year.
   9. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4753973)
@JeffPassan: Scary Astros possibility: If Nix wins grievance to pay agreed-upon $1.5M, Houston 17% over bonus pool, would forfeit next two 1st-rd picks.

@kileymcd: The small-minded industry/media people that slammed HOU purely for doing things differently now have a legitimate disaster to point to.
--
8 - agreed, joe
   10. JJ1986 Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:35 PM (#4753977)
Nix is the one getting completely screwed and it's by MLB and the MLBPA. The penalties for going too far over your bonus pool are insanely harsh; teams can't risk it for any reason.
   11. Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:38 PM (#4753979)

The grievance talk seems overblown. Until pen hits paper, both sides can change their minds. It's like the Phillies and Ben Wetzler last year, but in reverse.

As for Kiley's comment, the Astros' on-field product over the past three years certainly qualifies as a disaster. (And I don't recall anyone of note bashing the Astros for doing things differently. They get bashed for losing on purpose, being cheap, and being arrogant.)
   12. BDC Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4753982)
It's a Byzantine story. I support Joe K's idea of a non-negotiable slot bonus, as long as they're going to have a draft where draftees have no leverage.
   13. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:44 PM (#4753983)
The grievance talk seems overblown. Until pen hits paper, both sides can change their mind. It's like the Phillies and Ben Wetzler last year, but in reverse.


If Nix can establish they had any informal agreement to pay him $1.5M pending only a physical, he may have a strong case unless they can show he flunked the physical. It's not his problem the MLB will punish Houston for going over their draft bonus pool. And if he wins, Houston's cluster gets even more ######. They still have to pay him and pay a penalty for it, but should still lose him since they didn't sign him in time.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:45 PM (#4753985)
since [the Astros’] offer to Aiken was at least 40% of the his slot value (it was exactly that, actually) they will be given the number two overall pick in next year’s draft as compensation in addition to whatever pick they have…


How soon until a team effectively just delays its top draft pick a year by offering only 40% of slot to a guy that won't take it?
   15. Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:47 PM (#4753986)

Re: #13, there's no such thing as an enforceable informal agreement in MLB. Either there's a signed contract or there isn't.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:49 PM (#4753990)
An awful lot of reporters seem to be assuming that the Astros were in the wrong here.


I don't think it's just reporters.... The Astros are already considered to be penny pincher, tighwad scrooges who care more about the bottom line than they do their employers as witness of the handling of George Springer. This result does nothing more than confirm that impression on people.

40% of slot to "keep" the pick in the next year's draft? That's absurdly low.


Agree, anything less than 70% should be considered a crime, it's bad enough that they have a slot concept (which by the way I fully support) but again the Astros clearly seem like an organization built with rule lawyers and not real human beings trying to min/max everything possible. As it stands now, every time something goes wrong with the Astros,(just like the Marlins) it's a victory for humanity.

at the very least 40% should have dropped them out of the top ten.

   17. The District Attorney Posted: July 18, 2014 at 07:52 PM (#4753992)
What, you don't think they ruined their draft this year giving up their most valuable two picks just to dick w/Aiken?
Yeah, I don't know what the Astros would have to gain in the alleged conspiracy. If you don't want to pay your pick a big bonus, what you do is draft a less talented guy whom you know will take less. (Which is what a lot of people said the Astros did with Carlos Correa... but it sure don't look that way right now, does it?)

The small-minded industry/media people that slammed HOU purely for doing things differently now have a legitimate disaster to point to.
[Houston] clearly seem like an organization built with rule lawyers and not real human beings trying to min/max everything possible.
It's funny that these could be basketball comments just as easily as baseball comments.

(Of course, the Rockets have never even been under .500 under Daryl Morey... much less repeatedly been the worst team in the sport, with freefalling attendance and 0.0 television ratings. Still, at least if you can accept that one of the better teams in the league can have a "disaster" at all, those exact quotes seem to sum up the Rockets' offseason and the reaction thereto.)

The MLBPA sez:
The MLBPA, the players and their advisers are exploring all legal options.
(BTW, Aiken having an "advisor" or "agent" at all might be a problem for NCAA eligibility.)
   18. Walt Davis Posted: July 18, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4754001)
I assume that's why he's a "family advisor" not an agent in this case. I thought that was standard practice in such cases -- the NCAA allows unpaid family advisors. I don't think there is a contractual arrangement until (just before) the kid signs the contract.

This family advisor is a real agent so I think it's very unlikely he's screwed up the kid's NCAA eligibility.
   19. The District Attorney Posted: July 18, 2014 at 08:14 PM (#4754003)
I phrased that incorrectly. You can have an "advisor", but you can't have an "agent". And if your "family advisor" is talking to the front office of the team who drafted you, then the NCAA is probably going to say he's an "agent." (e.g. James Paxton... or Houston Chronicle article discussing this with respect to Aiken)

Now, I realize these rules are ####### nonsense from any logical standpoint, but that's what "NCAA" stands for.
   20. greenback calls it soccer Posted: July 18, 2014 at 08:19 PM (#4754004)
Can I make the obvious observation and say the NCAA is scum?
   21. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 18, 2014 at 08:28 PM (#4754009)
It didn't work out very well for them, so they must have done something wrong. Or maybe Crane likes having all the money in his pocket and it went exactly as planned.


We have a winner!
   22. tshipman Posted: July 18, 2014 at 08:45 PM (#4754029)
Yeah, I don't know what the Astros would have to gain in the alleged conspiracy. If you don't want to pay your pick a big bonus, what you do is draft a less talented guy whom you know will take less.


Astros were already going to give #1 less than slot.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: July 18, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4754033)
Can I make the obvious observation and say the NCAA is scum?


You won't get any argument from me, for decades they ignored clear issues and problems with their league and then they respond to criticism by going way over the top in policing their league instead of trying to do a common sense approach to everything.

   24. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 18, 2014 at 09:00 PM (#4754044)
I feel confident that no matter how bad his medicals are the Astros would get $6 million in value a year from now trading a guy with #1 overall pick kind of talent.

Instead, Houston is gambling that their draft pick compensation is going to net them better value in 2015. I don't think the MLBPA is going to care for the idea that draftees are bargaining against that as well. We shall see whether this is enough of a violation of baseball's custom to trigger a change in the current system.

I doubt anything is going to happen to help Aiken individually, however. It seems Houston operated within the rules.

Was Aiken picked first in part because he was willing to sign below slot? Houston would certainly be pissed if he agreed to do that before the draft and changed his mind when it came contract time.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: July 18, 2014 at 09:06 PM (#4754046)
Was Aiken picked first in part because he was willing to sign below slot? Houston would certainly be pissed if he agreed to do that before the draft and changed his mind when it came contract time


He and Houston had an agreement for less than slot, they then did the medicals and said "something in there bothers us, take 40% of slot instead of our agreement or nothing."

Perfectly within the rules, but there is nothing for Houston to be upset about.
   26. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 18, 2014 at 09:12 PM (#4754050)
Yeah, I'm aware they had a deal for $6.5 million before the physical and Houston eventually offered $5 million just before the deadline. I'm just wondering if the parameters of that initial deal were in place prior to the draft.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: July 18, 2014 at 10:34 PM (#4754093)
I will say that if the Astros went up to $5 M then Aiken probably should have taken it -- sucky/unfair/whatever or not. He's obviously never going to be higher than #1 overall and the $1.5 M difference from the original offer is probably not worth the risk of not getting $5 M next year. I'm not entirely sure he shouldn't have taken the $3+ M offer so $5 M seems about as good as he can do.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: July 18, 2014 at 10:42 PM (#4754097)
I will say that if the Astros went up to $5 M then Aiken probably should have taken it -- sucky/unfair/whatever or not. He's obviously never going to be higher than #1 overall and the $1.5 M difference from the original offer is probably not worth the risk of not getting $5 M next year. I'm not entirely sure he shouldn't have taken the $3+ M offer so $5 M seems about as good as he can do.


What is slot for the top 5 spots? Is there a place listing it?

It sounds like first was around 7 mil for slot. If he drops to a slot below 5mil(which I would imagine, would be any spot out of the top 5) then he probably should have taken the deal.
   29. Bhaakon Posted: July 18, 2014 at 10:56 PM (#4754102)
What is slot for the top 5 spots? Is there a place listing it?


Baseball America to the rescue.

As Walt suggested, it is very unlikely that Aiken will get that kind of offer if he's forced to re-enter the draft pool (either next season or three years from now). The #3 pick is the last slot that a $5M bonus fits into, though the #4 should be close by the time Aiken would be a draft-eligible junior. He'd have to enter the next draft with an equal standing as a prospect and hope that at least one of the top-drafting teams has no concern about whatever the Astros saw on his MRI. Either one of these individually seems unlikely, though not outlandish. Both together would be more of a stretch.
   30. Squash Posted: July 18, 2014 at 11:15 PM (#4754109)
Part of the problem here is that the slotting system is set up with the assumption that there's a superstar prospect at the top of every draft worth way way more than anybody else, which is occasionally but rarely the case. The top pick is allotted $7.92 million - by pick #5, a whopping four picks later, that number has more than halved down $3.85 million. All that extra slack makes room for a lot of shenanigans.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: July 18, 2014 at 11:30 PM (#4754121)

As Walt suggested, it is very unlikely that Aiken will get that kind of offer if he's forced to re-enter the draft pool (either next season or three years from now). The #3 pick is the last slot that a $5M bonus fits into, though the #4 should be close by the time Aiken would be a draft-eligible junior. He'd have to enter the next draft with an equal standing as a prospect and hope that at least one of the top-drafting teams has no concern about whatever the Astros saw on his MRI. Either one of these individually seems unlikely, though not outlandish. Both together would be more of a stretch.


That makes him not taking 5mil if offered, pretty ridiculous.
   32. Squash Posted: July 18, 2014 at 11:55 PM (#4754136)
He probably was dumb for not taking the $5 million if offered, which is part of the problem with the system. If $5m is good, why not $4m? Or $3m? Honestly he's probably dumb if he didn't take $2 million. Or significantly less. If you're going to limit a guy to negotiating with one team the floor of his slot should be significantly higher so he can't just get screwed.


My completely uninformed guess as to what happened here is that the Astros saw the small UCL or whatever on the physical and realized Hey, we might be able to get some money back. So they brought it to Aiken's people, who responded with some variety of "No ####### way", at which point the Astros position went from "Maybe we could get some money back" to \"####### it, we're going to get some ####### money back". Then suddenly everybody was looking at each other cross-eyed and that was that.
   33. Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 19, 2014 at 12:22 AM (#4754148)

At age 17, there isn't much difference between $6.5 million and $5 million, so there must be substantial acrimony on the part of Aiken against the Astros.

The Padres are only a couple games away from having the No. 3 pick. Maybe Aiken decided to roll the dice in the hopes of getting picked by his hometown team next June. The Astros can't pick him again unless he gives consent, which seems unlikely.
   34. tshipman Posted: July 19, 2014 at 12:34 AM (#4754151)
At age 17, there isn't much difference between $6.5 million and $5 million, so there must be substantial acrimony on the part of Aiken against the Astros.


Agree. Probably comes down to not wanting to get screwed.

Sort of on Aiken's side, sort of not. On the one hand, silly not to take the 4 million and be set. On the other hand, the Astros seem like real dickheads. So ... you know.
   35. Steve Sparks Flying Everywhere Posted: July 19, 2014 at 12:36 AM (#4754152)
Apparently Aiken never heard the story of Matt Harrington. $5 million is a hell of a lot of money to turn down.

Couldn't both sides have come up with something creative? Say, we'll give you the full $6.5 million if you stay healthy for 6 years. Not necessarily make the majors but just not have your elbow blow up as a result of this weird UCL.
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: July 19, 2014 at 12:40 AM (#4754153)
Couldn't both sides have come up with something creative? Say, we'll give you the full $6.5 million if you stay healthy for 6 years. Not necessarily make the majors but just not have your elbow blow up as a result of this weird UCL.


Not sure how that would go over with the slotting system.
   37. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: July 19, 2014 at 01:26 AM (#4754169)
Late to the party, a pitcher with a bum elbow and no leverage turned down $5 million? Well then.
   38. cardsfanboy Posted: July 19, 2014 at 01:37 AM (#4754173)
Late to the party, a pitcher with a bum elbow and no leverage turned down $5 million? Well then.


Not really sure that is the story.

A pitcher and team agreed to a deal for 6.5 million, below slot amount, team does an MRI, team is notorious for exploiting their advantages over youth, team then declares an injury problem to the elbow and offers $3 million(minimum amount they are allowed to offer to maintain their slot spot for next year). Player turns it down because he doesn't feel anything (and any person on the planet that gets an mri will be surprised at the amount of theoretical problems it might find) Team fails to sign player and loses their slot..


   39. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: July 19, 2014 at 03:28 AM (#4754194)
Oh, he doesn't feel anything. Well, that's obviously completely different. You've got to trust that. What would a baseball organization know about pitchers.

He'll never get that money back. He might get some back unless of course his elbow explodes in the next year. Maybe Matt Harrington can get of the hook here. He's been the poster boy for long enough.
   40. bigglou115 Posted: July 19, 2014 at 03:56 AM (#4754196)
Here's my thing, how similar is this really to Dickey. I mean, we know there's a problem, enough experts vouched for that. But there's a reason Dickey doesn't throw major league fastballs anymore. The other thing is, even if this isn't near as severe as Dickey's issue, even Andrews didn't seem to have a clear idea how to fix it. That would scare me off anybody right away. It's not "routine" TJ. It's not "we know what we're doing but here's hoping it works" rotator cuff surgery. It's James Andrews basically saying "we can probably figure something out."

Given that, would a cheap franchise offer the $5 M if he was really that big a risk?
   41. Swedish Chef Posted: July 19, 2014 at 03:58 AM (#4754197)
If the Astros went up to $5M, the MRI can't have been that bad.

Of course he'll never get an offer for five million again, but then again he doesn't have to play for the Astros, win some, lose some.
   42. cardsfanboy Posted: July 19, 2014 at 04:17 AM (#4754199)
If the Astros went up to $5M, the MRI can't have been that bad.

There is no evidence that the Astros went to $5mi....
   43. Randomly Fluctuating Defensive Metric Posted: July 19, 2014 at 05:28 AM (#4754201)
Alright, really just spitballing here, but Aiken throws 97 and had the talent to be selected number one overall. Could he sign a big contract to pitch in Japan for two or three seasons, then return stateside as a free agent?
   44. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: July 19, 2014 at 11:42 AM (#4754273)
@42 -- Multiple sites are reporting they offered $5M just before the deadline. A few are also saying that Aiken didn't even counter with 'I want the full $6.5M'. That they just said 'No' and didn't engage all day. It sounds to me like they simply had no interest in going to the Astros at that point.

@43 -- I believe that would limit the dollars he can get. Since he'd be so young, he would fall under the International Signing bonus rules. A team could splurge there, but there would be a penalty. It might work, but it would be risky. I'm not sure he'd be able to get out of his contract in Japan so quickly, though.
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 19, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4754277)
Aiken can just go to JuCo and re-enter next year, correct?
   46. Bug Selig Posted: July 19, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4754281)
How soon until a team effectively just delays its top draft pick a year by offering only 40% of slot to a guy that won't take it?


Didn't that happen yesterday?
   47. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: July 19, 2014 at 08:28 PM (#4754537)
@45 -- Yes, JuCo seems the likely outcome.
   48. AJMcCringleberry Posted: July 19, 2014 at 09:05 PM (#4754545)
Can I make the obvious observation and say the NCAA is scum?

The NCAA, where getting professional help for your career is worse than rape.
   49. McCoy Posted: July 19, 2014 at 09:34 PM (#4754550)
There is no evidence that the Astros went to $5mi....

Except the evidence that they did. . . .
   50. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 19, 2014 at 10:33 PM (#4754570)
FWIW, he had verbally committed to UCLA though I doubt he really believed he would be playing in college.
   51. asinwreck Posted: July 19, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4754578)
As a White Sox fan, I would like to thank the Astros for both 2005 and not drafting Carlos Rodon.
   52. Swedish Chef Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:06 AM (#4754625)
There is no evidence that the Astros went to $5mi....

Well, then he can't be ridiculous for not taking $5M, can he?
   53. BDC Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:17 AM (#4754634)
The Aiken episode points up the weirdness of the baseball-draft culture. Teams spend millions on bonuses, much of which are poured right down the drain, but on balance they make out great by severely underpaying the top talent (who still get millions). Meanwhile occasional individuals pass up millions for an alternative of zero - either because they're confident that more millions are ahead (ignoring risks) or because they have so much symbolically invested in a system that promised a huge payoff that they can't imagine settling for somewhat less. It seems to me a lesson in the irrationality of economics; or maybe on how functional economic systems are based on a lot of little individual illogics.
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4754660)
It seems to me a lesson in the irrationality of economics; or maybe on how functional economic systems are based on a lot of little individual illogics.

This is definitely true. A competitive market doesn't require that everyone behave logically, just that the "illogic" basically cancels each other out. i.e. there is no systematic bias to their illogical decisions.
   55. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4754665)
This is definitely true. A competitive market doesn't require that everyone behave logically, just that the "illogic" basically cancels each other out. i.e. there is no systematic bias to their illogical decisions.


Yea, the benefits of free market economics aren't based on the idea that all market participants make perfect resource allocation decisions. It's based on the idea that because the market is free, sub-optimal resource allocation decisions get punished by other participants making more optimal decisions. And over time the information about what's more optimal gets dispersed through the market, ie Billy Beane shouldn't have written that book.

In this case the market ain't free, but the outcome will be similar. Houston got punished for bungling this, losing not 1, certainly 2, but also possibly 3 of the best prospects from this draft (Aiken, Nix & Marshall). And also bad, those guys now are available for competitors to draft in a future draft, while next years top picks are going to be very leery of getting signed by the Astros.

Getting the second overall a year later ain't gonna make up for all of that.
   56. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4754687)
if aiken blows out his arm pitching this year does it vindicate the astros?
   57. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4754689)
while next years top picks are going to be very leery of getting signed by the Astros.

So? They don't really have a lot of say in the process.
   58. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4754691)
if aiken blows out his arm pitching this year does it vindicate the astros?


Not really. They shouldn't draft a high school pitcher with the #1 pick if they aren't willing to bear the risks of drafting a high school pitcher.
   59. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 05:21 PM (#4754769)
They shouldn't draft a high school pitcher with the #1 pick if they aren't willing to bear the risks of drafting a high school pitcher.


There's a difference between the ordinary risk of drafting a high school pitcher and the additional risk in signing a player whose elbow you have already determined to be compromised in some fashion.
   60. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 05:32 PM (#4754774)
All pitchers arms, shoulders, what have you get compromised at some point. The Astros should know this and they should know that an 18 year old pitcher carries a lot of risk with him.

What is the difference between a 18 year old pitcher that needs TJ surgery next week and one that will require it when he is 21?
   61. Swedish Chef Posted: July 20, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4754783)
There's a difference between the ordinary risk of drafting a high school pitcher and the additional risk in signing a player whose elbow you have already determined to be compromised in some fashion.

Presumably the player's party can do their own MRI and would be willing to take the money and run if there actually was something seriously wrong with his arm.
   62. cardsfanboy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4754790)
All pitchers arms, shoulders, what have you get compromised at some point. The Astros should know this and they should know that an 18 year old pitcher carries a lot of risk with him.


Exactly. If you took an mri(or other tests) of every pitcher in baseball currently, and you are looking to find something wrong, you will find something wrong on every pitcher in the game. That is why teams aren't just automatically doing MRI on each player prior to the season.
   63. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4754793)
All pitchers arms, shoulders, what have you get compromised at some point. The Astros should know this and they should know that an 18 year old pitcher carries a lot of risk with him.


Having unprotected sex is risky, but not as risky as having unprotected sex with someone who just told you they have a STD. There are different levels of risk, and after looking at Aiken's MRI, the Astros decided that the level of risk he posed (one greater than that of the average high school pitcher) was too high for them at the price he wanted - as is their right.

What is the difference between a 18 year old pitcher that needs TJ surgery next week and one that will require it when he is 21?


The pitcher who doesn't imminently need TJ might never need it, but the one who already needs it definitely will. Seems simple enough to me.

Presumably the player's party can do their own MRI and would be willing to take the money and run if there actually was something seriously wrong with his arm.


You would like to think that players will act in their own best interest, but that's not always true. Just look at Matt Harrington.
   64. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 20, 2014 at 06:44 PM (#4754819)
There are different levels of risk, and after looking at Aiken's MRI, the Astros decided that the level of risk he posed (one greater than that of the average high school pitcher) was too high for them at the price he wanted - as is their right


I've been a consistent defender of the Astros right to make this decision, but there a huge disconnect here between what is their right to do and what is smart (or just not terrifically stupid) to do. According to the BeyondTheBoxScore study, first picks in the MLB draft (not best prospect, but the first player taken) have averaged nearly 12 WAR in their first 6 years of MLB service.

This means the Astros had a reasonable expectation that Aiken would be worth roughly $60M, if not more, when they drafted him. Now you can quibble with this, but clearly we know they thought he was worth more than $6.5M, because that's what they offered him and it's silly to think a prospect good enough to be picked first isn't worth at least $30M, otherwise you are planning to draft a bust.

So they get his MRI and warning bells go off. Now they decide he's not worth $60M, or $30M, in fact, he's not even worth $6M?

How can this be? All pitching prospects are injury risks, a significant number will never even see the majors because of injuries. If a pitching prospect as good as Aiken came along with some weird genetic freak disorder that made him impossible to injure (we'll call it "Wolverine syndrome") he'd might be worth $100M if an ordinary risk prospect of the same caliber was worth $60M. Essentially, the valuation of a top pitching prospect already is discounted for injury risk. If the average prospect carries an injury risk of 30%, an Astros counter offer of $5M is saying they believe Aiken's injury risk is well over 90%? And if they didn't counter at $5M, they likely thought he wasn't even worth $3M (given he was unlikely to take the $3M offer they could risk offering it because of the massive value of the 2015 2nd pick compensation it earned them), meaning they must think he'd bust over 95%?

How can they be so sure about percentages like that to give up a top prospect (and 2 others), when he only has to succeed once in 10 times to be make it worthwhile? Even if Aiken had double the injury risk of a typical pitching prospect, he's worth at least $15M - $30M, and likely nearer the top end of that scale. It defies logic that they can accurately predict that a top pitching prospect with no actual injury as having an injury risk so far higher than the average pitching prospect. Even if you had the best orthopedist in the world reading the MRI, you could never trust that his error rate wasn't greater than the 5-10%. So it simply doesn't make sense they'd value him so low.

When I realized none of this makes sense, it's then I realized I was looking at it from the wrong direction. From the right perspective, the Astros walking away from Aiken makes total sense even if they still value him well in excess of $6.5M, which they almost certainly do. In fact, my guess is that the Astros probably still value Aiken in the $15M-$30M range. So why did they back out of a transaction that offered such strong positive value?

The answer is clearly because they believe it's more profitable to wait. The second pick next year is likely to be worth $30M-$60M (and likely higher end of that range), and sign for a bit less than Aiken was promised, which they believe will be a higher value transaction than closing a deal with Aiken (at their high risk assumption for Aiken). Whatever their specific value estimates are for Aiken, the #2 pick, etc, it's clear they believe that (2nd Pick - 2nd Pick Signing Bonus - discount for time lost ) is easily better than (Aiken + Nix + Marshall - $8M to $9M in signing bonuses now).

That tells me two things. One is that the Astros really are building for the long run, the GM isn't under the gun to make suboptimal decisions to improve the team right now, and they aren't weighing the cost of time lost very heavily.

And what their decision be correct from a value/economics perspective, from a fans perspective it just totally sucks and they either don't get that or care.
   65. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:39 PM (#4754841)
And what their decision be correct from a value/economics perspective, from a fans perspective it just totally sucks and they either don't get that or care.


If it results in a better team/chance at the playoffs/chance at a title, I don't think Astros fans will care.

Lost in all the piling on the Astros and the speculating on negative long-term consequences that will never actually come to fruition is the fun of tracking the players -- this is basically a trade of Aiken/Marshall/Nix for PTBNL(s), and trades are fun! Who do they take at #2 next year? Do they go with a similar approach and try to sign some over slot players again by saving on their first pick (as they did with Correa as well)? How does that end up aligning to when the Astros begin to compete again?
   66. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:49 PM (#4754844)
If it results in a better team/chance at the playoffs/chance at a title, I don't think Astros fans will care.

They won't care then but they will care now and until then.

Lots of people were behind Theo's rebuilding plan but as year 3 goes by a good deal of them are discovering they don't have the stomach for it.
   67. Ziggy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4754848)
Yeah, Pot Arb has got it. Although the incentive to wait is (a little) bigger than he says. They also get to invest $7m or whatever for a year, which would otherwise be spent on players. Maybe that doesn't cancel out pushing back the profit from their draft picks by a year, but it's some consolation.
   68. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:02 PM (#4754851)
#65: I see your point about it being a trade of sorts... however, there is some chance (perhaps small, but it exists) that Nix will prevail in a grievance or lawsuit and the Astros will be made to honor their deal, which will take them well over slot. In other words, there's an outside chance that they not only sacrificed a great deal of value from their 2014 draft, but might have compromised 2015 as well by way of lost picks. If that happens, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the Astros.
   69. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:54 PM (#4754872)
@68 -- Certainly if that happens it will change things drastically.
   70. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:13 PM (#4754880)
Who do they take at #2 next year? Do they go with a similar approach and try to sign some over slot players again by saving on their first pick (as they did with Correa as well)?

The Astros will have considerably less leverage next year. Could they really not sign their top pick again? That's a lot to expect the remaining fans to swallow. The compensatory pick is also a one time thing, right? They wouldn't get yet another pick in 2016 if they don't sign the 2015 compensatory pick? If that's the case, it's unlikely that they'd get someone who was anywhere near the true #2 talent in the draft to give them back slot money. They can draft a lower-level, more singable pick, but then they are penalizing themselves even more. Seems like the Astros messed up big time, and the 2015 pick isn't likely to salvage the situation.
   71. Ziggy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:45 PM (#4754896)
65 wasn't suggesting that they intentionally fail to sign their top pick. (They didn't go into this draft intending not to sign Aiken, either.) He's suggesting that they draft someone who will take less than slot and use the left-over money to sign lower draft picks for over slot. If they don't sign their top pick they lose that money from the pool and won't be able to go over slot on the lower picks.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
danielj
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogBuster Olney on Twitter: "Sources: Manager Joe Maddon has exercised an opt-out clause in his contract and is leaving the Tampa Bay Rays immediately."
(82 - 9:30am, Oct 25)
Last: TerpNats

NewsblogGambling Bochy creature of habit when it comes to pitchers | CSN Bay Area
(1 - 9:25am, Oct 25)
Last: JJ1986

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread, September 2014
(921 - 9:24am, Oct 25)
Last: Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site

NewsblogYost's managerial decisions make for extra-entertaining World Series | FOX Sports
(1 - 9:22am, Oct 25)
Last: I Am Not a Number

NewsblogMLB - Royals' Ned Yost keeps managing to win - ESPN
(1 - 9:18am, Oct 25)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

NewsblogDave Dombrowski: Injury worse than expected, Miguel Cabrera 'is as tough as you can possibly be' | MLive.com
(1 - 9:17am, Oct 25)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(3739 - 9:08am, Oct 25)
Last: DJS and the Infinite Sadness

NewsblogRoyals get four AL Gold Glove finalists, but not Lorenzo Cain | The Kansas City Star
(15 - 7:54am, Oct 25)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

NewsblogCurt Schilling not hiding his scars - ESPN Boston
(23 - 7:32am, Oct 25)
Last: Merton Muffley

NewsblogJohn McGrath: The Giants have become the Yankees — obnoxious | The News Tribune
(13 - 7:15am, Oct 25)
Last: ursus arctos

Newsblog9 reasons Hunter Pence is the most interesting man in the World (Series) | For The Win
(16 - 1:35am, Oct 25)
Last: base ball chick

Newsblog2014 WORLD SERIES GAME 3 OMNICHATTER
(515 - 1:26am, Oct 25)
Last: Pat Rapper's Delight

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(385 - 1:05am, Oct 25)
Last: tshipman

NewsblogHow top World Series players ranked as prospects. | SportsonEarth.com : Jim Callis Article
(21 - 12:04am, Oct 25)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogDid Adam Dunn Ruin Baseball? – The Hardball Times
(73 - 11:22pm, Oct 24)
Last: Walt Davis

Page rendered in 0.7173 seconds
52 querie(s) executed