There was another development in the Brady Aiken saga, this time the news came from Aiken himself. Aiken announced on The Players' Tribune that he had undergone Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL on Wednesday, in his own words:
Yesterday, I had Tommy John surgery to fix my left arm. I'm obviously extremely disappointed. I wanted to let my pitching speak for itself, but now there are going to be new distractions. For that reason, I wanted to be the one to tell people what's happened and make this a fresh start.
The Houston Astros selected Aiken first-overall in the 2014 MLB draft, but were unable to reach agreement on a contract. The Astros had concerns about the Aiken's elbow and reduced their offer to the minim required to get a composition pick in next year's draft. There were reports that Aiken's MRI revealed an "abnormally small" Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his pitching arm. They would eventually raise their offer to $5 million at the deadline for signing 2014 draft picks, but no deal was struck. Aiken became the third first-overall pick to not come to terms with the team that drafted him.
Aiken's adviser Casey Close berated general manager Jeff Luhnow for the mistreatment of his players. Both the Astros and Aiken's camp keep quiet, allowing the media to fill in the blanks. For the most part, the Astros were dehumanized for their mistreatment of the 17-year old. It fit with the growing narrative around the Astros front office - they were cold, calculated, and players were only number and not human beings. The Astros process lead them down this road, does this result justify the process? Maybe. That said this isn't a victory for the Astros. No one wins with injuries.
Aiken went on further to say:
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.
The money wasn't the only factor to consider. I wanted to play somewhere I felt comfortable, with a support system I felt would lay the groundwork for a successful and long career. Making sure I had that in place was worth the frustration of not being able to get on with my career sooner.
My family was smart, and we accounted for all of the possible risks. Having gone through this process, I really encourage other players to take the time to be fully educated about what they are getting into and to plan for the unexpected. Having a solid plan helped me through the ups and downs. Even now, I know I made the decision that made the most sense for my future.
Aiken doesn't directly reference the Astros in anyway or the fact that the team doctors reportedly found an issue with his UCL. Instead, Aiken used this platform to turn the narrative in his favor as best he could.
When I decided not to sign, I knew injuries were always a possibility. Two other pitchers drafted after me in the first round last year were picked by their teams despite just having undergone Tommy John surgery. This is just a temporary setback.
It isn't clear he was successful in changing the narrative, but we at TCB wish him the best of luck in recovery and hope he is pitching again soon.