Friday at 2:00 PM PST, the deadline to sign players in the Rule IV player draft passed, and the Giants ended up signing twenty-three of their forty draft picks, including their first fourteen picks. The Giants also reportedly signed four additional undrafted players. The haul in quantity is not as good as in 2013, when the Giants signed thirty-three of their picks, but we will see what the quality of this crop ends up being, some of them have already been getting going in the lower levels of the Giants system. The Giants went over their budget, but will not be penalized in the form of draft picks being taken away from them.
The biggest news for me came out of Houston, as the Astros were unable to sign first overall pick of the draft, LHP high schooler Brady Aiken. As Jim Callis’ notes, the Astros were poised to give Aiken $6.5 million until his physical revealed some trouble in his elbow and the Astros then changed their offer to Aiken of the minimum of just above $3.1 million. Aiken and his team did not accept, and now the Astros are guaranteed to have the second overall pick in the 2015 Draft. Callis reminds the public that their fifth round pick Jacob Nix was waiting for Aiken to sign so Nix could get a seven-figure deal, but that number they agreed on would only work if Aiken signed, otherwise the Astros would lose future draft picks if Nix signed that large deal without Aiken putting the pen to the paper. Both Nix and Aiken are UCLA commits, so the Bruins figure to be big winners, loading up their rotation with two pretty good arms. I have no idea how the Astros wind up in all this, but the MLBPA is looking into making them pay.
We’ve known that Tony Clark and the MLBPA have had their eye on the Houston Astros, and in Callis’ piece Clark goes on to talk about “exploring all legal options” as it relates to the Astros not signing Aiken and possibly try to cheat the system so they can sign other picks. This wouldn’t be a problem if there were not spending caps, but I find it hard to see we’ll ever go back to those days, since it benefits both the owners and the current members of the MLBPA. The Astros say they kept MLB abreast of the situation with Aiken as they were going through the negotiation process, and I’m wondering if the MLBPA won a suit against the Astros, what would the penalty be? Money? A draft pick? It’s too bad this situation has come about, and I know the MLBPA won’t look itself in the mirror on this one, although this should spur conversations as to how these matters can be prevented in the future. Suggestions include an MLB Combine, which I’m sure would be great viewing for scouting fans and teams would get another free look at players.
Callis also mentions that as long as prep players like Aiken and Nix go to UCLA, they will not be eligible for the next two Drafts. Should they play in independent ball or community college, they could enter the next draft. So until then, UCLA is stacked, and we wait to hear if the MLBPA will do anything against the Houston Astros.