The Major League Baseball Players Association has reportedly filed a grievance against the Houston Astros over the failed negotiations with No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and two other draft choices.
Former New York Times baseball columnist Murray Chass first reported the players union’s move and it was later confirmed by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.
Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe declined comment to the Houston Chronicle‘s Evan Drellich.
As Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt reported earlier this week, Aiken and Jacob Nix, a fifth-round pick by Houston, had reportedly agreed to terms shortly after the draft, for $6.5 million and $1.5 million, respectively. But in order to sign Nix to that over-slot deal, the Astros needed to sign Aiken for substantially less than the $7.9 million slotted for the No. 1 pick and use the savings on Nix.
When the Astros found an irregularity in Aiken's elbow during a physical, they backed out of their $6.5 million agreement and reduced their offer. The two sides could not complete a deal before Friday's deadline, which meant the Astros no longer had the money to honor their agreement with Nix (who passed his physical) without forfeiting a pair of future first-round picks.
The MLB players' union indicated Friday that it was concerned about the way the two players were treated by the Astros, and the filing of a grievance was one possible avenue to pursue.
The grievance could be aimed at either forcing Houston to honor its agreement with Aiken or to get him declared a free agent. The other options available to Aiken and Nix are to attend UCLA and re-enter the draft in three years; to enroll at a junior college and re-enter the draft next year; or to play in an independent league for a year.Mac Marshall is the third player and Astros draft pick involved, according to the report.
As Fitt reported, Marshall wanted $1.65 million pass on a commitment to LSU, causing him to slip to the 21st round, where he was drafted by the Astros.
When Aiken's physical caused Houston to reduce its offer to the No. 1 overall pick, the club hoped to use its extra savings to make a run at Marshall.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri told Fitt that Marshall had enrolled in summer school and prepared himself to attend the university, but that “all of a sudden the Astros circle around and start talking to him again," Mainieri said. "So it was a tough thing for the kid, he was all set to go to LSU, then all of a sudden there's a chance they might give him what he was asking for.”
It’s unclear how the grievance might impact Marshall, since it does not appear his school eligibility would be in question. As Fitt reported, if the NCAA determines that Aiken and Nix did in fact agree to terms (as many media reports say they have), they would be ineligible even though the Astros backed out of the deals, according to an NCAA official.