SBD/July 25, 2014/Franchises

MLBPA Files Grievance Against Astros, Claiming Manipulation In Not Signing No.1 Pick

The MLBPA "filed a grievance" against the Astros this week, contending the club tried to "manipulate the signings" of three players from the '14 MLB Draft, according to MURRAYCHASS.com. The Astros claim the club "needed to sign" No. 1 overall pick P Brady Aiken "to be able to sign" fifth-round pick P Jacob Nix and 21st-round pick P Mac Marshall. The failure to sign all three is supposedly "tied to the relatively new draft rules." Under the system, which the union agreed to in the '11 CBA, the commissioner’s office "assigns each club recommended figures as signing bonuses for players selected in the first 10 rounds of the draft." Clubs can sign players for "more or less than what is called the slot figure, but if a club’s total bonuses exceed its pool total, it incurs penalties in the form of a tax on the excessive amount or loss of future draft choices." The union could "argue its case on several bases." One is the "alleged manipulation of the Aiken deal to use it to sign Nix and Marshall as well." Another is the Astros’ "release of medical information about Aiken’s elbow." Since he was "not their player, they had no authority to disclose confidential medical information in violation of the privacy rule of the federal HIPAA law" (MURRAYCHASS.com, 7/24). In Houston, Evan Drellich wrote in the case of a grievance, the MLBPA's filing is "not required to be made public, and in most cases, grievances are resolved quietly." But this matter has the "gravity of the first overall pick in the draft." A grievance can "lead to arbitration, but can also be settled ahead of a hearing" (CHRON.com, 7/24).

FADE TO BLACK: SI.com's Ben Reiter wrote the "most likely answer" to what the Astros were thinking is that they were "not impervious to the torrent of negative public sentiments that had flooded into their offices once it had started to seem possible that they would not sign" Aiken. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said, “I do feel genuine empathy for the players involved. It was bad luck all around. I understand that from a fan’s perspective, we got nothing.” He added, "One thing that seems clear is that the idea that the Aiken affair has significantly damaged the Astros is overblown." Reiter noted it can be argued that the club "pushed the rules, but they did not violate them." In fact, the Astros "operated no differently from the way the majority of the league’s teams would have." But Reiter wrote, "It was, indeed, a black eye for the Astros. And yet, black eyes fade" (SI.com, 7/23).
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