Well, this is a bummer. Pitching prospect Brady Aiken, whom the Astros selected with the first overall pick in last year's amateur draft and who was then dicked out of his money by some lowballing, just underwent Tommy John surgery.
To recap, the Astros initially agreed to pay Aiken a $6.5 million signing bonus after drafting him, but then attempted to cut that bonus down to $3.1 million after discovering an "abnormality" in Aiken's elbow. The Astros' offer eventually climbed to $5 million, but Aiken never signed.
That was messed up! Not because the Astros invented Aiken's arm issues in an attempt to drive down his price—today's news suggests that those issues were in fact real—but because every young, hard-throwing pitcher is susceptible to arm troubles. It's the nature of being a pitcher. Using the fact that a pitcher is a pitcher against him in negotiations as part of some larger draft-gaming scheme is shady as hell.
Aiken, who was cast into limbo after failing to sign with Astros, made the announcement today on The Players' Tribune, and addressed his decision not to take the Astros' below-slot signing bonus last summer:
Since last summer, a lot of people have wondered how I could have turned down a multi-million-dollar signing bonus after being picked first in the Draft. Now, I know they'll probably be wondering about it again. I can honestly say I don't regret not signing. It was a very difficult decision, but it also was an informed decision based on circumstances only a few people know the truth about. My family and I planned for all the possible outcomes. We weighed the pros and cons, talked with friends and mentors and doctors whose opinions we value and discussed it over a number of family dinners. This wasn't a decision we made lightly.
Aiken had been pitching at IMG Academy with the intention of re-entering the draft in 2015. Now, he'll have to take at least a year off from pitching. Who knows where he'll end up after that.