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.