Skip to content

At least one major leaguer is not pleased with the Jon Singleton deal

Jun 3, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

Jonathan Singleton Getty Getty Images

An eighth round pick with no big league experience probably doesn’t have a ton of money in the bank. So when he signs a deal that guarantees him $10 million and could net him $35 million despite the fact that he is three years from having any sort of negotiating leverage it’s not exactly a sad story.

But Jon Singleton’s story is an interesting one that goes to the heart of team-player power dynamics. As in, Singleton obtained that $10 million worth of security by giving up the chance to snag many times that amount of money if he’s even a slightly above average major leaguer over the next few seasons. And the Astros used their collectively-bargained leverage over him to maximal levels in order to get that deal. In essence, they told him that if he wants to be in the bigs now, he has to sign. He signed.

While all of that went down between two willing parties and was subject to the clear rules of the system, some people aren’t too happy about that. One of those people is Orioles pitcher Bud Norris, who thinks Singleton made a bad deal that could set a bad precedent for other players:

I get that sentiment. If one player takes a deal that saves the team a ton of money and could cost the player a ton if things break right there will be more attempts by teams to get players to take such deals. Over time, that lowers salaries and that’s not a good thing from the players’ and union’s perspective. And even for Singleton himself, if he comes up and puts up even one good half season before signing anything, he stands to make much more even on a deal that buys out his arbitration and one of his free agent years.

But even if I see all that — and even if I’d handle it differently for myself or advise Singleton differently if I were his agent — I’m having a hard time getting on board with Norris and any other players or union folks who have a problem with this.

For one thing, it’s Singleton’s life and $10 million over five years is likely to change it dramatically. If he got his arm lopped off by a dwarf with a battle-axe tomorrow, he’d have a cushion of cash on which to live. We talk about player and contract value in the quasi-abstract all the time and to some extent we become immune to how large these numbers we talk about are. This is Singleton’s life and Singleton’s choice and union politics aside, that has to be respected.

[RELATED: How does Singleton fit into Houston’s lineup?]

But more to the point: the Bud Norrises of the world (i.e. veteran players) are what subjected Singleton to the Astros’ leverage in the first place. It’s not written in stone that players don’t reach arbitration for three years and free agency for six. That was negotiated by the union. A union which, in recent years anyway, has frequently seen fit to bargain away the rights of amateur and minor league players in negotiations at the expense of things that better-serve veteran players. Why are there slotting and bonus caps in the draft now? Why do minor leaguers make almost zero money and live in deplorable conditions? It’s because no one with the power to help them out — be it the teams who control their destiny in the first instance or the players who could use their power to help them out in the second instance — gives much of a crap about them. Maybe if Singleton’s life in Oklahoma City was more comfortable he’d feel more comfortable waiting the Astros’ out and negotiating a better deal for himself. I guess we’ll never know.

Clearly this is a difficult issue — any gamble on one’s own future that could impact others’ futures brings with it some hard choices — but it takes a pretty entitled and narrow-minded person to not see that Singleton’s incentives were predetermined and his choices somewhat limited by virtue of a system that was set up long before het had to make his choice.

Latest Posts
  1. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    May 5, 2015, 7:18 AM EDT

    Jeff Francoeur Getty Images

    An old friend returns to the site of his greatest triumphs.

  2. Rangers snap Astros’ 10-game winning streak

    May 4, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Delino DeShields Jr.;Hank Conger AP

    The Astros hadn’t lost a game since April 22.

  3. UPDATE: Hanley Ramirez exits game with a left shoulder sprain

    May 4, 2015, 10:43 PM EDT

    hanley

    Ramirez suffered the injury when he ran into the wall along the left-field line while attempting to make a catch.

  4. UPDATE: Anthony Rendon diagnosed with oblique strain

    May 4, 2015, 10:13 PM EDT

    anthony rendon getty Getty Images

    Anthony Rendon’s long road back from a left knee sprain has hit a roadblock due to an oblique strain.

  5. Jeff Karstens announces his retirement

    May 4, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets Getty Images

    Jeff Karstens hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2012 due to injury and today he took to Instagram to announce his retirement from baseball.

  6. Mariners place Austin Jackson on disabled list with a right ankle sprain

    May 4, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT

    austin jackson ap AP

    Jackson sprained his ankle during Sunday’s game and will require an extended absence.

  7. Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby suspended 14 games for conduct toward umpiring crew

    May 4, 2015, 7:34 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Getty Images

    MLB brought the hammer down really hard on Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby for an incident with the umpiring crew while the team was in Boston last week.

  8. Alex Cobb shut down after setback with forearm injury

    May 4, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT

    Alex Cobb AP

    Rays right-hander Alex Cobb has been sidelined since the middle of March due to forearm tendinitis and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be back in the near future.

  9. Rockies closer Adam Ottavino needs Tommy John surgery

    May 4, 2015, 5:29 PM EDT

    Adam Ottavino AP

    Ottavino finishes the season with a 0.00 ERA and 13/2 K/BB ratio in 10 innings.

  10. Nelson Cruz, Adrian Gonzalez named Players of the Month

    May 4, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT

    Nelson Cruz Nelson Cruz

    The pitchers and rookies of the month were also named.

  11. Twins place Oswaldo Arcia on DL, call up prospect Eddie Rosario

    May 4, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    Oswaldo Arcia AP

    Not so long ago Rosario was viewed as a very good prospect, but …

  12. Video: Debating Pete Rose’s possible reinstatement

    May 4, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT

    pete rose getty Getty Images

    Are we now to the “when,” rather than the “if” portion of the Rose reinstatement debate?

  13. Nick Swisher set to rejoin Indians after two knee surgeries

    May 4, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    Oakland Athletics v Cleveland Indians Getty Images

    He’s being paid $15 million this season and is owed another $15 million in 2016.

  14. Did the Brewers follow the “Selig Rule” in hiring Craig Counsell?

    May 4, 2015, 12:25 PM EDT

    Brewers logo

    The Selig rule requires that requires that every club consider minority candidates for manager positions. There really wasn’t a search for Ron Roenicke’s replacement in Milwaukee.

  15. Craig Counsell gets a three-year deal to manage the Brewers

    May 4, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT

    Craig Counsell Getty Images

    Milwaukee now has the guy who had easily the best batting stance of any current manager.

  16. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy cleared for rehab assignment

    May 4, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

    Nearly a month ago Hardy was said to be “close” to starting a rehab stint.

  17. Quote of the Day: A-Rod isn’t gonna talk about the $6 million home run bonus

    May 4, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

    He says “it’s family business” and that “the old A-Rod is gone.”

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. A. Rendon (3515)
  2. J. Hamilton (2984)
  3. D. Span (2870)
  4. D. Wright (2598)
  5. A. Colome (2585)
  1. A. Pujols (2522)
  2. D. Jennings (2507)
  3. A. Escobar (2450)
  4. C. Gomez (2371)
  5. A. Cobb (2328)