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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reports: The Astros may still be able to sign top pick Brady Aiken

All they really need is a time machine.

Then John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune followed up with his:

  The July 18 deadline to sign draft picks has come and gone, with Aiken rejecting the Astros’ last-minute offer. But the team could still sign the No. 1 overall draft pick under a clause at Major League Baseball’s discretion.

  The other 29 major league clubs have signed off on that clause, industry sources said. The Aikens, however, would insist on a sign-and-trade deal before agreeing to terms with Houston.

If it’s a sign-and-trade deal, then, well, this is even more unusual.

Anyhow, now, in a brief interview with ABC 10 in San Diego, MLB commissioner Bud Selig has all but confirmed that an Astros’ after-deadline signing of Aiken is still in play. Here’s the key excerpt:

  10News asked him, “Can you confirm if (his offer) was able to go past the July 18 deadline?”

  Selig replied, “We’re working on that right now. There are a lot of things in movement there so it would be inappropriate for me to comment, but I would say we are working towards a hopeful solution.”

Needless to say, this would be a big coup for the Astros, whose 2014 draft, absent an Aiken signing, looks fairly disastrous.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 04:01 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, brady aiken, draft

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 27, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4780241)
What a prima donna.
   2. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 27, 2014 at 04:53 PM (#4780251)
I presume that Seligula has some other motive besides human kindness for bailing the Astros out on this, I would also hope that this somehow resolves the Jacob Nix situation as well...

I assume that Selig is not being motivated to help Nix and Aiken (Nix especially got screwed)- so the question is is he bailing out the Astros because of his relationship with Crane, or is he trying to protect the other 29 teams from the Astros idiocy?

Also sign and trade????? What sport is this?
   3. Astroenteritis Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4780270)
the Astros, whose 2014 draft, absent an Aiken signing, looks fairly disastrous.


It's a bit early to say that, and there's no reason to believe Aiken alone would turn a draft from disastrous to even fair.
As much as I, and most Astro fans, despise Bud for forcing the team to the AL, I'm not sure whether to feel happy that the team might get something out of this mess or disgusted that Selig would do something that seems so...I don't know...shady.

This story has been out a while, but this is the first I've heard of the "sign and trade" bit. Would any team give up anything of value for Aiken?
Agree with #2 that Nix is the one who really got the short end, and I'd be happy to see him sign.
   4. JRVJ Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:25 PM (#4780283)
This was a fairly complicated situation, and I hope a solution can be found that is acceptable to all involved (ultimately, if all 29 other owners agree to allow Aiken to be signed, I don't see a reason to get upset).

Nix, OTOH, was definitely shafted.
   5. Ziggy Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4780288)
Can you DO a sign-and-trade? I thought the rule was that new draftees had to spend a year with the team that signs them. (Which is why they end up being PTBNL so often.)
   6. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 27, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4780306)
It's a bit early to say that, and there's no reason to believe Aiken alone would turn a draft from disastrous to even fair.
It's not just Aiken, but Nix and Marshall as well.
   7. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4780312)
Can you DO a sign-and-trade?

No, but you can't sign someone after the deadline either.

I just get the funny feeling that the Astros weren't so much spooked by Aiken's MRI as they were looking to use it to game the (new) system and it blew up in their faces...

But the again what do I know, for all I know Bud's on the way out and is actually simply trying to do the right thing for those involved/affected

   8. shoelesjoe Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:13 PM (#4780317)
Would any team give up anything of value for Aiken?


Unless there are concerns over his health I would assume the Astros would absolutely be able to get something of value for a guy who was the #1 pick in the draft. Of course TNSTAAPP, but for plenty of organizations (cough ... Yankees ......Angels ... cough) Aiken would immediately jump to near the top of their prospect rankings.
   9. asinwreck Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4780328)
We have rules. If you don't like them, we have others.
   10. tshipman Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4780330)
(ultimately, if all 29 other owners agree to allow Aiken to be signed, I don't see a reason to get upset).


Well if ALL the members of a colluding group agree, I guess it's okay ...
   11. Jim Furtado Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4780336)
I don't recall where I read it but I read another article today which said a Nix signing is still possible because of his grievance but Aiken isn't in play.
   12. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 27, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4780337)
A sign and trade deal, huh? What are they gonna get back, a shooting guard and the expiring contract of Theo Ratliff?
   13. JRVJ Posted: August 27, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4780353)
10, Who exactly is hurt if Aiken is signed after the deadline?

(Nix is screwed, but I think that's a different issue).

   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 07:13 PM (#4780355)
10, Who exactly is hurt if Aiken is signed after the deadline?

All the Astros' competitors.
   15. tshipman Posted: August 27, 2014 at 07:40 PM (#4780375)
10, Who exactly is hurt if Aiken is signed after the deadline?

(Nix is screwed, but I think that's a different issue).


Aiken is hurt, depending on the parameters of the deal. Also, the Astros do not pay a penalty for their poor behavior.
   16. ReggieThomasLives Posted: August 27, 2014 at 08:06 PM (#4780388)
It's not just Aiken, but Nix and Marshall as well.


Yea, the horse done left the barn already, no way to undo the damage. In fact, I can't understand why the Astros would want to do a sign and trade, they get a top pick next year (#2 IIRC) as compensation, why give that up when Aikens trade value should be significantly less than the value of next years pick? I mean he's hurt, right:), and even if he isn't damaged goods in any way (how confident can buyers be on that?) the Astros don't have much trade leverage, they likely have to deal him promptly for best available offer.

I just get the funny feeling that the Astros weren't so much spooked by Aiken's MRI as they were looking to use it to game the (new) system and it blew up in their faces...


This makes no sense at all. All they had to do to "game" the system was sign Aiken for the amount agreed to. It gave them enough money to sign 2 other super valuable picks they snagged with two cheap picks. IIRC they were using the #1 pick, a 3rd round pick and a 20th something round pick to get a #1 level talent, a first round level talent, and a 2nd round level talent. Again, IIRC on exact ratings/draft positions for these guys.

Last time this was discussed, the only reason that made sense for blowing up this draft was that Aikens MRI genuinely spooked them. If you think your $50M value pick is only worth $20M because of excess injury risk, it makes sense to pass on him in favor of a $40M value pick next year, even if it costs also losing $10M of other picks from 2014 draft.

I have a theory Houston got so wrapped up in doing a complicated draft maneuvering that they picked Aiken from 3 or 4 other roughly equal value choices because he was the one who agreed ahead of time to a sufficient discount (or biggest discount). They needed this to fund their draft plan to steal high rated prospects skipped in early rounds due to bonus demands using lower value later round picks and leftover money from #1 pick. But their mistake likely was not considering the following brain teaser.

If you ask the three top rated prospects to take a substantial discount to the MLB allowed bonus in order to be your #1 pick, and two say "no way" while the other quickly agrees, who is more likely to have significant red flags in their medical condition?
   17. tshipman Posted: August 27, 2014 at 08:13 PM (#4780392)
In fact, I can't understand why the Astros would want to do a sign and trade


Because they might be looking at a grievance filed and no compensation pick.
   18. Ziggy Posted: August 27, 2014 at 08:36 PM (#4780411)
Who can file a grievance? Amateur players are not parties to the CBA.
   19. boteman Posted: August 27, 2014 at 08:50 PM (#4780422)
I'm still trying to figure out the difference between "sign and trade", "sign and follow", and "sign and drive". What a confusing world we live in!
   20. tshipman Posted: August 27, 2014 at 08:51 PM (#4780423)
Who can file a grievance? Amateur players are not parties to the CBA.


I forget the technical mechanism, but there was a situation where a player sued and was declared a free agent.
   21. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 27, 2014 at 09:09 PM (#4780444)
This is all probably moot, anyhow. Aiken appears to be so angry at Houston (refused to negotiate just before the deadline) he will not sign with and join the organization. There is no way MLB will agree to their request for a sign-and-trade.
   22. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 27, 2014 at 09:23 PM (#4780458)
Astros working on a resolution with Nix, not Aiken
Several news outlets took what commissioner Bud Selig said in an interview in San Diego, and apparently mistakenly believed he was referring to Aiken when he suggested that sides were hopefully working toward a "solution." Selig, in fact, was talking about the Nix, the other pitcher the Astros failed to sign.

That there was something new regarding Aiken appears to have been a misunderstanding. Selig possibly didn't hear the questioner use Aiken's name and thought she was talking about Nix.
Golden Rule: Those who have the gold make the rules.
   23. JRVJ Posted: August 27, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4780479)
14, the very competitors that supposedly signed off on this?(though it looks like the original story is wrong)

15, with appropriate provisos that the original interpretation of Bud's comments seem to be wroing, Aiken would be hurt, how?

Because he's already screwd professionally until the 2015 draft.....
   24. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 27, 2014 at 09:48 PM (#4780484)
15, with appropriate provisos that the original interpretation of Bud's comments seem to be wroing, Aiken would be hurt, how?
There was the very real possibility that Aiken would have been ineligible for NCAA competition. That would have really hurt... but I THINK that's been resolved and Aiken is okay to go to UCLA. Nix was also slated to join UCLA, so it may be that if you're looking for a big winner in this whole mess, it's UCLA baseball.

... maybe they're behind this all somehow!
   25. kthejoker Posted: August 27, 2014 at 10:08 PM (#4780500)
I also don't see how Nix got especially screwed. He's a high school pitcher who laid his $1.5 million demand down pre-draft so very few teams even had the option to sign him. He went into the whole thing eyes open, his agent Close knew his deal was contingent on signing Aiken, Aiken didn't sign, QED.
   26. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 10:39 PM (#4780532)
I also don't see how Nix got especially screwed. He's a high school pitcher who laid his $1.5 million demand down pre-draft so very few teams even had the option to sign him. He went into the whole thing eyes open, his agent Close knew his deal was contingent on signing Aiken, Aiken didn't sign, QED.


Yep. But apparently MLB is worried that he has a nonzero chance of winning his grievance and thus setting a potentially dangerous precedent for owners' interests, because I can think of no other reason why MLB would be trying to make a deal outside the bounds of the CBA for Nix's benefit.
   27. Ziggy Posted: August 27, 2014 at 10:46 PM (#4780538)
Since he's not a party to the CBA, couldn't the owners collude and not have anyone sign him if he wins FA rights? (What's the use of a anti-trust exemption if you don't use it?)
   28. Astroenteritis Posted: August 28, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4780699)
It's not just Aiken, but Nix and Marshall as well.


Oh I get that, but I took the phrase below to mean the author was implying that signing Aiken alone would save the draft. Probably just poor reading comprehension on my part.
absent an Aiken signing, looks fairly disastrous.


Anyway, I don't think the Astros ever had much chance at signing Marshall, but certainly losing Nix hurts.
At this point the team would be better off keeping the 1.2 than working a deal that only allows them to sign Nix, but forfeits the 1.2 next year.
   29. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 28, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4780711)
This makes no sense at all. All they had to do to "game" the system was sign Aiken for the amount agreed to. It gave them enough money to sign 2 other super valuable picks they snagged with two cheap picks.

\
No, their deal with Aiken would allow them to sign one of those guys, furthrer cutting into Aiken's bonus would give them room for the second.
I have a theory Houston got so wrapped up in doing a complicated draft maneuvering that they picked Aiken from 3 or 4 other roughly equal value choices because he was the one who agreed ahead of time to a sufficient discount (or biggest discount). They needed this to fund their draft plan to steal high rated prospects skipped in early rounds due to bonus demands using lower value later round picks and leftover money from #1 pick. But their mistake likely was not considering the following brain teaser.

No it's been pretty well established that Aiken was their guy all along, plus as far as your "brain teaser" goes- teams do that with very high picks all the time- DL when he was with Pitt was the worst (of course he wasn't doing it to save money to use on other picks, he was doing it to save money to move back into his general fund)
   30. billyshears Posted: August 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4780738)
We have rules.


. . . and those rule have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, message board poster in your mother's basement? Bud Selig has a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Aiken, and you curse the Astros. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what Bud Selig knows. That Brady Aiken not signing, while tragic, probably saved money. And Bud Selig's existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves money. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want Bud Selig's rules, you need Bud Selig's rules. We use words like draft, signing deadline, allotment. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent making money. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps wathing the very baseball that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a bat, and stand at the plate. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
   31. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM (#4780803)
And Bud Selig's existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you,


Seligula's existence is no more grotesque or incomprehensible* than Marlon Brando's appearance in Island of Doctor Moreau was, which to close the circle was reminded to me by my thoughts watching Nicholson on the stand in a Few Good Men was along the lines that he would have made a great Colonel Kurtz...


*Now JoeyB OTOH, his existence is grotesque and incomprehensible
   32. ReggieThomasLives Posted: August 28, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4781002)
No, their deal with Aiken would allow them to sign one of those guys, furthrer cutting into Aiken's bonus would give them room for the second.


So they gamed the system to piss off their top pick to get enough extra money to sign a much less valuable pick without paying any penalty? I can't prove your theory is wrong without arguing that Houston isn't that dumb, and even attempting that argument should immediately lead to a summary verdict in your favor after this mess.

But it seems way too dumb, why not just pay the penalty? Between the two extra signings the $1M Aiken agreed to has to cover most of their cost so they shouldn't exceed their draft pool by that much.

No it's been pretty well established that Aiken was their guy all along, plus as far as your "brain teaser" goes- teams do that with very high picks all the time- DL when he was with Pitt was the worst (of course he wasn't doing it to save money to use on other picks, he was doing it to save money to move back into his general fund)


Either Aiken was always their guy, or it was established early he was the only one of the top three prospects willing to take a big discount. We really don't know what Houston was thinking, who they actually liked best, why they made these decisions, this whole embarrassment is proof of that.

And no matter what reasoning other GMs use with low balling the top pick, my point about sample self selection bias is still important. If you ask potential draft picks how much they are wiling to discount below slot, those most willing to discount are more likely to have hidden problems. It's standard game theory for games where opponents have incomplete and asymmetric information. And yes, during contract negotiations players and GMs are fully opponents in a game of contract optimization.

It may be the effect is small, but I'd be surprised if it was. Either way a GM should consider asymmetric informational risk and what salary demands could mean very carefully. A similar but not identical situation was when Kevin Towers passed on Stephen Drew to sign Matt Bush, a prospect eager to sign for much lower contract requirements who also turned out to have a raging dependency problem. I'm thinking his agent knew that his clients value might never be higher, while Boras was confident Drew had a low risk of busting.

This mess and that information deficit is another reason why the MLB should require top prospects to go through standardized MLB medical evaluations before the draft, so this doesn't happen again to other prospects. To keep it inexpensive, the MLB could require it only to be eligible for the first round. And then raise the required contract offer to 80% of the pool allowance to get compensation for any unsigned picks who went through the MLB medical evaluation.
   33. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 28, 2014 at 04:43 PM (#4781094)
This makes no sense at all. All they had to do to "game" the system was sign Aiken for the amount agreed to. It gave them enough money to sign 2 other super valuable picks they snagged with two cheap picks.

But the simple act of saving money could be the result of gaming the system. Also, would signing Aiken at the agreed amount have allowed them to sign all their draft picks?

IMO, the Astros felt they had Aiken over a barrel as soon as they discovered a reason to argue for a discount on the agreed salary. On Aiken's part, any decision besides accepting their discounted offers is economically irrational for him since 1) it's unlikely he will be a number one pick again and 2) at best he's getting similar money but has to do without it for 1-3 years.

I think this is borne out by how the Astros actually negotiated with him. First, they offered the minimum number they could offer to get draft pick compensation if he didn't sign ($3.2 million or so, IIRC), but then upped his offer into the $5 million range just before the deadline. I find it hard to believe the Astros suddenly changed their mind on Aiken's value to that extent; rather I find it much easier to believe they made the first discounted offer, realized they had misjudged his willingness to go unsigned after feeling insulted, and jumped their offer about $2 million. We also don't know how high Houston was willing to go since Aiken simply stopped responding to their offers and seems determined to never play for the organization.

EDIT: I can't find a source on this but I believe Joe Kehoskie has been insistent that the Astros have consistently left money unspent in their international prospect fund and their domestic draft allotment. The Astros are a cheap team.

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