In baseball, tradition continues to trump intelligence.
In front offices, however, the transition has occurred. In some organizations it has shifted more than others as more and more baseball operations are taken over by guys with Ivy League degrees than guys who worked their way through the minors.
Billy Beane, the face of the movement after “Moneyball” was oddly enough the latter.
The Houston Astros is one of those organizations, so much so that their scouting director is now a former Baseball Prospectus writer, Kevin Goldstein, who got his start writing an emailed prospect hot sheet that gained traction when his name appeared in a Peter Gammons column on ESPN.com.
The reason this comes up is that this week, the Astros completely bucked tradition.
Normally, baseball players (even the good ones) don't get paid much when they first reach the majors. If they were a high draft pick, they got a big signing bonus (and were dubbed a “bonus baby”) but their salary doesn't skyrocket until after they become arbitration-eligible.
The Astros, however, decided to change that. They signed prospect Jon Singleton to a five-year deal worth a guaranteed $10 million that could turn into an eight-year deal worth $30 million.
Normally, Singleton would have made $500,000 this season. Now, he'll make three times that and $9.5 million of it is scheduled to be guaranteed.
But that doesn't mean everyone likes it.
If Singleton, who homered in his debut and helped the Astros to a 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, continues to be a force then that contract could limit his eventual earning power. But, for now, it guarantees him $10 million that he didn't have guaranteed until today.
“Sorry but this Singleton deal is terrible. Wish the Jon listened to the union and not his agent,” was what former Astros pitcher Bud Norris tweeted about it.
The problem is that those separate from Singleton think he could be worth so much more down the line and he is limiting his value and future prospects' value by accepting the deal. For Singleton, it was taking the risk factor out of things and taking the money the team offered now.
Because, beyond now, nothing is guaranteed.
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