Late Friday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports published an article titled Brady Aiken's adviser rips Astros as team can't agree to deal with picks. Heyman brings no earth-shattering news to the saga in which the Astros ended up not signing High School pitchers first-overall pick Brady Aiken, fifth-round pick Jacob Nix, and twenty-first-round pick Mac Marshall. Nix and Marshall both fell in the draft due to strong commitments to attend college, but the Astros drafted them anyway after a verbal agreement with Aiken for $6.5 million gave them some bonus pool slop with which to pry the youngsters away from their schools.
In his article, Heyman treats the situation of Aiken vs. Astros more-or-less fairly, though the tone implies a sympathy with the players. However, towards the middle, Heyman digresses into touchy-feely human-interest mumbo jumbo when he spends several paragraphs casting Nix as the real victim of this whole PR debacle.
The most obvious victim here though would appear to be Nix, who is said to have had no medical issues and yet winds up unsigned over the difference of opinion the Astros and Aiken had over Aiken's medical exam
Rubbish. A quick hop into the Wayback Machine and we can read Nix' thoughts on being drafted in the fifth round out of his own words:
"After not being drafted on the first day I was expecting to go to school, and we ended up sorting out a better deal in the fifth round," Nix said. "I had my dollar figure, and if I got my dollar figure I'd turn pro, and if it were a dollar less I was going to college. It was a fairly easy decision."
Presumably, if Nix had a "dollar figure", then it was communicated to teams beforehand, and was a major reason why he dropped. Prior to the draft, Baseball America did not have Nix listed on their Top 100 Draft Prospects and MinorLeagueBall.com's Matt Garrioch had him at #92, a 3rd-round value. By slot value, pick #92 was worth $576,100.
Heyman obliquely criticizes the Astros for gaming the draft system as it was instituted by the last collective bargaining agreement, and puts Nix up on a pedestal as the poor kid who suffered most from it.
But hold on. Isn't Nix the guy who had a "dollar figure" to turn pro? A reasonable assumption for Nix's dollar figure is the $1.5 million bonus the Astros conditionally offered him. So the Nix camp was saying that despite being ranked by national pundits as a talent worth an approximately $500K bonus, he would not turn pro unless a team could offer him three times that, knowing full well that such a bonus would require a team to sign a higher pick to far under slot in order to make it even work.
So Nix was gaming the draft system as well, just like the Astros
But when Aiken failed his physical (or whatever), and the Astros engaged into a he-said she-said contest with the first-overall pick (whose allotted unpaid bonus money was to go to Nix), Nix fell into limbo. Ultimately, when Aiken decided not to sign with the Astros, his entire bonus pool went away entirely - the Astros were not allowed to reallocate it to other draft picks, and therefore they were unable to sign Nix.
At that point, Nix still had the option to accept the $370K bonus value for being the 5-1 pick (assuming that was offered, which seems reasonable) or it might have been an even higher bonus if the Astros wanted to go 5% or 10% over the bonus pool, which is allowable by the CBA with only a fine paid to MLB. But he (presumably) chose not to.
So Nix, Heyman's victim of circumstance, passed up the option of being drafted in the 3rd (or better?) round, in which he would have received a bonus of around a half-million. He presumably passed up the option of receiving almost $400K from the Astros when the Aiken deal fell through. Both of those decisions are on him and his advisers, not the Astros, and not on the CBA draft system.
Jacob Nix gambled. He lost. He's not a victim of anything but his own decisions.