Houston Astros Sign Jon Singleton to Long-Term Deal
The Astros today announced that it had signed 22 year old minor league 1Bman Jon Singleton to a five-year roughly $10 million deal that includes three additional option years totaling $20 million plus another $5 million in possible performance bonuses. The Astros also announced that the team has promoted Singleton to the major leagues.
While the deal sets a new record for players who have yet to play even one day in the major leagues, it leaves something of a bad taste in my mouth due to the implicit connection between Singleton agreeing to contract terms very favorable to the Astros in exchange for being called up to the major leagues. In fact, I think the players’ union should file a grievance and also make this a focus of the next renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement.
Yes, the deal guarantees Singleton a certain amount of money, but not a lot for a player who is now major league ready at the age of 22. If Singleton develops into a major league regular, even if not a big star, he would have made far more than $10 million going year to year. Additionally, the contract contains three option years that include what would have been his first free agent season for an amount that in today’s game is a paltry sum.
About a month ago I wrote about the fact that Gregory Polanco and George Springer had turned down similar offers from the Pirates and the Astros respectively earlier this year. Springer played 13 games in the minors this Spring, which he probably needed in light of the fact that he had only played 62 games at the AAA level entering the 2014 season. However, it was pretty obvious to everyone that had Springer agreed to the Astros terms, he would have started the season in Houston.
As for Polanco, he’s still languishing at AAA Indianopolis despite being at least the second best hitter in the International League and the Pirates badly in need of another outfielder. Polanco remains at Indianopolis for no other reasons than to push his arbitration eligibility and free agency back by a year and to punish him for not accepting the sweetheart deal offered by the Pirates, since it was clear to everyone the Pirates would have promoted him immediately had he accepted the offer.
Of course, the Pirates will eventually promote Polanco, and if he stays healthy he will be able to negotiate far larger contracts in the future. Still, I think the players’ union has to take some action to prevent teams from effectively black-mailing young minor leaguers to lock themselves into highly unfavorable long-term deals if they want to play in the Show anytime soon.