With the deal signed, Singleton, 22, is on his way to join the Astros from Triple-A, where he hit 14 homers with 43 RBIs. He'll make his major-league debut Tuesday, playing first base against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Astros signed Singleton for five years and a minimum of $10 million, but as Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported, the contract could be worth up to $35 million over seven years after two option seasons and incentives. What the Astros and Singleton agreed upon has created a lot of discussion in the baseball industry for thwarting tradition, and it's even provoked the ire of one MLB pitcher and former Astro. We'll get there, but first some details:
Jon Singleton details: $1.5M this year, $2M/year from 2015-18, $2.5M ($500K buyout) in 2019, $5M and $13M ($250K buyout each) in 2020, '21.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 3, 2014
Traditionally, if players don't sign an extension early on — which is becoming more of a trend, though never this early — they become arbitration eligible after three seasons and free agents after six. By going outside the service-time and arbitration system used in most scenarios, the Astros are gambling. They're betting Singleton's power will make him worth more in the long run than what he's agreeing to now, and they're enjoying the cost certainty that comes with that. Shrewd? Maybe. Stupid? Maybe. Singleton could become a superstar, or he could totally flop.
Former Astros pitcher Bud Norris is none too happy to see Singleton selling himself to the Astros so early. Norris, 29, was drafted by Houston and played there until last season, when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. He chimed in on Twitter on Monday night, calling the deal "terrible." You don't see MLB players giving opinions of others players' contracts often. Given Norris' relationship to the team, this is quite interesting.
Sorry but this Singleton deal is terrible. Wish the Jon listened to the union and not his agent.— Bud Norris (@BudNorris25) June 3, 2014
This being Twitter and all, Norris didn't go into too much detail, but we understand his argument enough. Singleton signed what's looked at as a "team-friendly" contract because it delays his free agency. The Astros threw a lot of money at a young kid who might have been in line for even more should he have the type of career some analysts are anticipating. Singleton simply chose to get his money now.
As baseball's contracts have become bigger and more outlandish, free agency has become the big payday at the end of the tunnel. So it makes sense a veteran player nearing free agency with dollar signs in his eyes is going to think the Astros are taking advantage of Singleton. (Norris will be a free agent in 2016).
Though, the fact is, Singleton would still be a free agent by age 30 at the latest, and Robinson Cano was just handed $240 million at 31. So it's not like Singleton is throwing away his future livelihood.
Let's also consider that Norris hasn't shied away from bad-mouthing his former team recently. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle wrote a fascinating piece late last month about the Astros' changing reputation in MLB as they've become one of the more progressive teams to use analytics. In that story, Norris called out the Astros too:
"They are definitely the outcast of major league baseball right now, and it's kind of frustrating for everyone else to have to watch it. When you talk to agents, when you talk to other players and you talk amongst the league, yeah, there's going to be some opinions about it, and they're not always pretty."
Part of what the Astros do is assign values to players like they're products on a shelf or stocks on a spreadsheet and thus, they're trying to buy things for less than their perceived value. In other words: They're trying to get a deal, no different than most shoppers.
The team has tried this super-early-contract-extension strategy with other players, namely their other hot-shot rookie George Springer. Springer didn't agree to a deal. Perhaps Norris will give him an "atta boy" next time they see each other.
As for Singleton? This was ultimiately his call. It's his career and he gets to decide how much he thinks he's worth. Sure, Norris has been around longer and, who knows, he might have his own woeful tales of dealing with the Astros management, but frankly, this isn't any of his business.
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