Astros fail to sign top pick Aiken

Astros fail to sign top pick Aiken
July 18, 2014, 4:45 pm
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Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow walks on the field before a game against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park.

(USA Today Sports Images)

Brady Aiken will not be an Astro.

The Astros and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft could not reach an agreement on a contract after the team physical revealed an issue in the left-handed pitcher’s elbow.

Although not necessarily an injury, the physical reportedly showed an issue with the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. That revelation caused the Astros to reduce their offer to Aiken, which he refused to accept.

The two sides had until 4 pm Houston-time on Friday to reach a deal.

The Astros did make a qualifying offer to Aiken of just under $3.2 million, which means that they will be awarded the No. 2 overall pick in the draft as compensation for being unable to sign Aiken. As it stands now, the Astros are tied with Arizona for the second-lowest winning percentage in baseball, which would give the team two of the top four picks in the 2015 draft.

Aiken now must choose between attending UCLA, which would prevent him from re-entering the MLB Draft until 2017, or play professional baseball or for a junior college, which would allow him to re-enter the draft in 2015.

The Astros initial deal with Aiken was reported to be $6.5 million, which was $1.4 million less than the slotted amount allowed to pay the top pick. With that extra money the Astros had planned on signing fifth round pick, right-handed pitcher Jacob Nix, and try to reach a deal with 21st round pick, left-handed pitcher Mac Marshall.

Because the team failed to make deal with Aiken, the pool money for the top pick in the draft also vanished and both Nix and Marshall did not sign with the team.