Recently, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros offered top prospect George Springer a seven-year, $23 million contract last September. As Matthew Pouliot explained earlier this week, it was a way for the Astros to guarantee themselves a bargain while giving Springer the playing time in the Majors he obviously wants. Springer, though, rejected the deal, preferring to keep control over his own fate.
Over the off-season, the Astros acquired Dexter Fowler to play center field, which all but guaranteed Springer would be back in the minors when the 2014 season began. The reason is obvious: without that contract in place, the Astros are being careful with how they use Springer. If he makes his debut before June and accrues any serious amount of playing time, the Astros likely lose a year of control, making Springer a free agent after the 2019 season rather than after 2020.
Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that Springer’s agent Greg Genske and the MLBPA are considering filing a grievance over Springer’s playing time. Drellich writes:
Although Springer is technically not a member of the major league baseball players association — he is not on the team’s 40-man roster yet — that does not limit the union’s ability to potentially contest that the Astros did not act properly. The central issue is always whether the collective bargaining agreement was violated in any way.
Springer, 24, slashed .303/.411/.600 with 37 home runs between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was rated the 20th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus recently.
The Brewers offloaded outfielder Michael Choice’s contract to the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a team announcement on Friday. Choice signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in early May, but did not earn a major league stint in 11 weeks with the team.
It’s been two full years since the 27-year-old outfielder snagged a big league opportunity of any kind. He last appeared with the Rangers in 2015 and played in just one game, striking out in his only at-bat. His production rate sagged through three consecutive minor league assignments with the Indians, Orioles and Brewers and peaked in 2016 after slashing .246/.304/.456 with 14 home runs for the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus. He was off to a decent start this season for the Brewers’ Double-A Biloxi, working a .272/.349/.503 batting line with nine home runs and an .852 OPS through his first 195 PA.
Choice is poised to join several other ex-major leaguers on the Heroes’ roster, including left-hander Andy Van Hekken, right-hander Jake Brigham and infielder/outfielder Danny Dorn.
6:43 PM: Danny Dorn no longer plays for the Nexen Heroes, as he was released to clear roster space for Choice.
Our old friend Joe Posnanski tackles a venerable topic over at MLB.com: guys you totally forgot played for a given team. Mostly superstars who had brief stops at non-signature stations at the end of their careers. Or guys, like Mike Piazza and Reggie Jackson, who were with a team for a blink of an eye in between more famous way stations.
We’ve all had this conversation before: remember Willie Mays with the Mets? Doc Gooden with the Astros? John Smoltz with the Cardinals? Heck, I had forgotten about Smoltz with the Cardinals and he was a star on my favorite team once upon a time.
Posnanski calls them “Irony Jerseys.” That’s pretty appropriate, as one can totally imagine someone buying, say, that Dale Murphy Rockies jersey in the name of obscurity. Whatever you call it, it’s a good read.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get my Ted Simmons Braves jersey for a party at some place uptown that you’ve probably never heard of.