Astros fail to sign the top pick in MLB draft

The Houston Astros failed to sign the first pick in this year’s major-league draft — San Diego high school pitcher Brady Aiken — before Friday’s deadline.

The head of the players’ association said the union is working with the pitcher and his advisers to explore “all legal options.”

Aiken, a left-hander, originally was offered a deal with a $6.5 million signing bonus, a person familiar with the negotiations said earlier this week, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized. But the club expressed concern over Aiken’s elbow ligament and lowered the offer, the person said.

The union is also concerned with Houston’s handling of its negotiations with fifth-round pick Jacob Nix. The right-handed pitcher from Los Alamitos, California, didn’t sign either. Both Aiken and Nix have committed to UCLA and are being advised by Casey Close

“Today, two young men should be one step closer to realizing their dreams of becoming Major League ballplayers,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “Because of the actions of the Houston Astros, they are not. The MLBPA, the players and their advisers are exploring all legal options.”

The Astros insisted in a statement that their offer to Aiken “was extremely fair considering all the factors involved in this case.”

“As always, we approached these negotiations in good faith and with the best interests of the Astros organization in mind, both short-term and long-term,” the team said. “Throughout this entire process, we have absolutely acted within Major League Baseball’s rules and guidelines, which MLB has confirmed on numerous occasions.”

MLB executive vice president Dan Halem defended the team Tuesday and said “we fully support the Astros.”

“We believe that they have conducted themselves appropriately,” Halem added.

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