Last week, we wrote about that rumor floated by Kiley McDaniel that the Astros could still be negotiating with Brady Aiken. There were plenty of complications and more questions than answers at the time, but the story weirdly didn't catch on in the baseball world at the time.
On Wednesday, it did in a big way. Here's a quick guide to what's going on with the news and what fans might expect.
What's the story?
Well, McDaniel reported that MLB could extend the draft signing deadline so that the Astros can get a deal done. The thought, according to McDaniel, was that the deal would be in conjunction with the Jacob Nix grievance hearing and might not happen before the offseason.
In essence, MLB was saying it could rip up the deadline rules and let the Astros sign both Aiken and Nix well after the signing period ended.
That sensational story stayed pretty dormant for most of the week, but it was picked up by the San Diego Union-Tribune, who published this story on the entire deal. The paper also got some info from the Aiken camp, including this juicy tidbit.
The other 29 major league clubs have signed off on that clause, industry sources said. The Aikens, however, would insist on a sign-and-trade deal before agreeing to terms with Houston.
This is where things go off the rails. A sign-and-trade? What does that even mean? There has not been a very successful history of that happening since Pete Incaviglia basically ruined the fun of draft pick trades while forcing his way out of Montreal.
But, this also suggests that the Aikens are still not happy with the Astros. That made it even more odd when this TV station in San Diego got a comment from Bud Selig.
What the bleeping bleep?
Oh, Bud Selig. Still trolling Astros fans, even after he left office. This, finally, sparked some national attention, with MLB.com prospect writer Jim Callis picking up the thread and stating just how crazy it has been.
But, with the attention came the denials. Jon Heyman had a story refuting the idea that the Astros and Aiken were close to a deal:
astros are working on resolution with nix, not aiken, it turns out. http://t.co/0OckIkgnsF— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) August 27, 2014
Then, lovable beat writer Evan Drellich followed up with his own confirmation of the denial of Aiken.
Source: Astros are 'highly unlikely' to be able to sign Brady Aiken. Commish Selig must have been referring to Nix http://t.co/UwJIHRcZPd— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) August 27, 2014
Oh, and Berman weighed in, too, giving us just as many denials of the Aiken angle as we had support for it.
MLB sources confirmed for FOX 26 Sports nothing is happening that could bring about a deal between the Astros & top-draft pick Brady Aiken— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 27, 2014
The problem with the San Diego TV report seems to be some ambiguity about what Selig was asked or what he was answering on. As happened with the (SPOILERS) much-discussed Sopranos/David Chase interview from Wednesday, the answer may have been sensational, but without knowing the exact question, ambiguity still rules the day.
Yeah, at this point, no one is sure what's going on. But, the consensus (which we wrote about even last week) is that this whole issue is being driven by the Jacob Nix grievance hearing. If MLB assumes that Nix could win his case and that the Astros could be forced to honor the deal, all the parties could be trying to work out an agreement between Nix and the Astros.
That way, the matter doesn't even get to an independent arbiter, who could mess with the MLB rules and set precedents and all that jazz Baseball probably doesn't want to deal with.
No, really, what?
Well, you should really be asking "why," not what. It doesn't fit the motif you're going for with your weirdly non-specific questions in this Q&A, but bear with me. The "why" to this last point is much more interesting.
Back when all the draft drama was playing out before the actual deadline, one of the relevant points here sort of got buried. Kudos to CRPerry for keeping it in the forefront, though. When the Astros were going through those last few weeks of negotiations, they stayed in constant contact with MLB. Baseball was okay with all the Aiken nonsense, the smaller offer and all that. Does that mean they knew about the Nix deal, too?
If Jacob Nix went through all the steps to get his deal approved, including passing a physical, he's got a case for his filed grievance. Baseball's draft pool rules allow for teams to do exactly what the Astros did, making Nix's signing contingent on Aiken, whether that was explicit or not.
The only way any mention of Aiken made sense was as a way for MLB to avoid penalizing the Astros for the Nix deal. By allowing them to sign Aiken, they'd have the pool room to add Nix's deal without losing draft picks. But, obviously, the Aikens aren't having any part of the Astros organization, even now.
So, does the negotiation shift to Nix and making sense of that? Will baseball suspend any penalties against the Astros, since they tacitly approved of the process?
Those are the questions that still need to be answered, and will probably be why negotiations are still ongoing. A resolution seems likely, but not with Aiken.
So, for all of you who were worrying about his purportedly small UCL and would rather the No. 2 overall pick next season, you're in luck. It seems that the Astros will not have Aiken, but will have 1-2 next year.