The Astros selected Brady Aiken as the first overall pick in the draft last month. But then he developed some sort of arm issue — maybe — and now the Astros are trying to play hardball with him in order to get him to agree to a lower-than-expected bonus with the signing deadline looming on Friday. Aiken’s agent, Casey Close, is not pleased. Ken Rosenthal relays Aiken’s comments:
“We are extremely disappointed that Major League Baseball is allowing the Astros to conduct business in this manner with a complete disregard for the rules governing the draft and the 29 other clubs who have followed those same rules,” Close said.
The Astros and Major League Baseball, however, deny that anything untoward is happening (and Close does not specify what rule, exactly, he believes is being violated). What’s more, there is disagreement on whether or not Aiken is injured. The Astros have said that Aiken’s physical revealed “abnormalities” in his arm. Close says Aiken is perfectly healthy. Probably worth noting that Close does not have a reputation of a bomb-thrower as far as agents go.
Is this a tough-but-acceptable position the Astros are taking, or have they crossed a line? From a distance it’s impossible to tell. Nor is it at all clear if this is pre-signing deadline posturing or evidence of a significant rift that could derail the Aiken-Astros marriage. It’s certainly high-stakes stuff for Aiken and Close, in that if the sense takes hold that Aiken is somehow damaged goods it could affect his value later on down the line if he goes to college and then re-enters the draft.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.
There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.
Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.
Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.
With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.
Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.