The Astros used the first overall pick of the 2014 MLB Draft on high school pitcher Brady Aiken, but the two parties haven't finalized a deal as of yet. We might be learning just why that is, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that an "elbow ligament issue" with Aiken has Houston looking to get a discount on the lefty.
There's no word yet on the severity of the issue, or if the unexpected has occurred and Aiken simply doesn't have an elbow ligament as happened with R.A. Dickey once upon a time. It's hard to rail on the Astros for this, as there is only so much medical information available to teams prior to drafts. Scouts spend their time trying to dig up as much information as they can, but if there is no hard evidence of injury and no whispers that an injury is coming, then there's not much to work with.
Considering Aiken was dominant in his senior season, striking out 111 batters against 15 walks in 59⅔ innings of work, he certainly didn't appear to have an elbow issue. Maybe there was something lurking under the surface, though, that showed up in his physical but not his performance. Not yet, anyway.
According to Heyman, the Astros want to cut Aiken's bonus down to $5 million from the $6.5 million they reportedly already agreed on, per Baseball America's signing bonus tracker. This could send Aiken scurrying back to school and the draft. He wouldn't be eligible again until his junior year of college, but the Astros would get the second overall pick in next year's draft, in addition to whatever their 2015 first-round selection turns out to be. They would also lose the $7.9 million in draft budget allotted to the first overall pick (out of roughly $13.4 million in total for the first 10 rounds) this year, so there could be spending repercussions for this class if they planned on handing out larger bonuses to players outside the first 10 rounds. The Astros would only have roughly $1 million left to play with, making signing someone like 21st-round pick Mac Marshall, who was a fringe first-round pick in some circles but dropped due to signability concerns, a nigh impossibility. Were they to go over their remaining, Aiken-less budget by more than 5 percent, they would sacrifice a 2015 second-round pick as well, and more than a 10 percent overage would cost them their first.
Given that, it's likely the two sides will work something out, even if the dreaded call to someone like Dr. James Andrews proves necessary for Aiken's elbow.