MLBPA files grievance against Astros in regard to draft pick situation

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When the Astros failed to agree to terms with No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken earlier this month, many speculated that the next step would be a grievance against the team from the Major League Baseball Player Association. According to two reports this evening, that’s exactly what has happened.

Here’s the link to the original report from Chass.

While the specifics of the grievance aren’t yet known and aren’t required to be made public, you have surely heard the details of the situation by now. The Astros originally agreed to sign Aiken to a $6.5 million bonus, but they later attempted to leverage him into signing an underslot deal due to questions about his elbow. While a bonus of $3,168,840 was thrown around, their final offer reportedly came in at $5 million. Much of the attention has been focused on Aiken’s plight, but the breakdown between the two sides also affected fifth-rounder Jacob Nix, who had a verbal agreement to sign for $1.5 million contingent on the team also signing Aiken. The Astros’ draft pool shrunk without signing Aiken, so they would have faced penalties had they gone ahead with the deal for Nix.

Casey Close was the adviser for both Aiken and Nix during the process and he offered some pretty strong criticism of the Astros in the media. However, it’s unclear whether they did anything to break the rules. The system isn’t the cleanest in the first place and it actually invites this sort of manipulation with the current draft pool set-up. If anything, Nix got screwed the most by this situation and perhaps the MLBPA will be able to make the case that his agreement should be honored. Or nothing will come of it. Either way, it should be interesting to see how it plays out.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.