Jun 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros first overall draft pick Mark Appel waves to fans during the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Brady Aiken's Signing Saga Continues

Everyone lauded the Houston Astros when they selected California high school lefty Brady Aiken with the first overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, especially since there was a feeling that Aiken would be more likely than Carlos Rodon to sign for a bonus below the almost $8 million slot value of the pick. Scouts loved Aiken’s playing ability, seeing a significant increase in his velocity since last year as well as his already well-developed curveball and promising changeup. The UCLA commit was reported to have verbally agreed to a $6.5 million signing bonus with the Astros but things have gotten much murkier in the five weeks since the draft.

The Astros are looking to shave some money off that bonus payout since a physical revealed a “significant abnormality,” according to a report by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Rosenthal is also reporting that Aiken’s agent, Casey Close, believes that, despite the Astros’ medical reports to the contrary, Aiken is perfectly healthy after hitting 97 mph on the radar gun in his final high school start of the year.

Last week, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com wrote that the Astros have dropped their offer to $5 million based on their medical reports and are trying to use the extra bonus cap space to sign Aiken and fifth-round pick Jacob Nix, who is reported to have a $1.5 million deal in place which is contingent on Aiken signing a below-slot deal. If Aiken is signed for $5 million, it would also allow the Astros to sign 21st-round pick, lefty Mac Marshall.

In Rosenthal’s article, Close suggests that the Astros have lowered their offer to Aiken even further, to $3,168,840, a figure that, coincidentally, is 40% of the slot value of the pick and is the minimum necessary offer for the Astros to receive a compensation pick (#2 overall) in the 2015 draft.

Rosenthal continues to suggest that Close and the MLBPA are particularly concerned about the fact that the finalizing of Nix’s contract has allegedly been tied to Aiken’s signing although Nix has passed his physical. Rosenthal quotes Tony Clark, the Executive Director of the MLBPA who said, “The Astros made a deal with Jacob Nix and should honor that agreement.”

The ramifications of this could be very big should the MLBPA file a grievance or if the players involved file lawsuits against the Astros and/or MLB. Both players have commitments to UCLA and, if they don’t sign, will still be able to play college baseball.

The MLB draft pick signing deadline is July 18 and it looks like things will go down to the wire for baseball’s top draft pick in 2014.

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