It's time for another installment of "The Week in Overreactions" -- the idea that was
stolen borrowed with approval from our friends at Eye on Football. To the narrative machine!
The MLB Players Association is not happy with Jonathan Singleton's contract.
Earlier this week, Astros first baseman Jon Singleton signed a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $10 million. The deal includes three club options that could push the total value north of $30 million.
The contract extension is unprecedented because Singleton had never played in the big leagues before. Evan Longoria signed a long-term extension with the Rays six days into his MLB career back in 2008, but never before had a player signed a deal like that before making his debut.
For regular folks like me and (probably) you, signing that contract is a no-brainer. Guaranteed $10 million before you have to prove yourself against MLB competition? I would do that in a heartbeat. Don't you think someone like, say, Mike Moustakas would sign that deal if he could go back in time?
And yet, Singelton has caught some grief from his fellow players. Orioles righty Bud Norris was the most outspoken:
Sorry but this Singleton deal is terrible. Wish the Jon listened to the union and not his agent.— Bud Norris (@BudNorris25) June 3, 2014
Even former players have been getting on Singleton's case:
Just saw contract this #astros prospect signed. Either he doesn't believe in himself to be great or he has a terrible agent who wants the 4%— Mark Mulder (@markmulder20) June 3, 2014
That is pretty unfair. Why can't Singleton believe in himself and play it safe by jumping on financial security right now? This isn't an either/or situation.
By mentioning the union, Norris' comment implies he is unhappy Singleton theoretically dragged down the market for future players. Salaries during pre-arbitration and especially arbitration years are all tied together; they're used as reference for other contracts all the time. Teams will now be able to point to Singleton's (potentially) below-market contract when negotiating with their players.
The union's unhappiness is very hypocritical, however. It severely limited the earning potential of minor leaguers with the current collective bargaining agreement by agreeing to spending restrictions for the draft and international amateur players. Why? Because those players are not union members.
Singleton's contract is unprecedented, but at the same time it's not. Drafted players had been signing huge contracts for years before the MLBPA took that right away. Stephen Strasburg signed a four-year, $15.1 million contract out of the draft in 2009. What's the difference between that and Singleton's deal? Nothing, really.
So now, after limiting the earning potential of players when they turn pro, union members like Norris are going to frown upon a guy who signs an eight-figure contract before making his debut? Give me a break. Singleton signed for $200,000 as an eighth-round draft pick. Yeah that's a lot of money, but it's not set-for-life money.
The bigger issue here is how the Astros used service time as negotiating leverage. Is it a coincidence Singleton was called up to make his MLB debut the day he signed his extension? Of course not. The Astros were not going to call him up until after the Super Two cutoff to control his future salaries before they were set by the contract.
Houston did the same thing with George Springer earlier this year. They offered him a long-term contract before his MLB debut, he said no, and they waited until his free agency had been pushed back a year to call him up. Gregory Polanco would have been in the show right now had he accepted the Pirates' offer a few weeks ago.
The union is worried about future salaries being dragged down? Fine, then figure out a way to stop clubs from manipulating service time. Don't get on Singleton because he made the totally rational decision to accept life-changing money when it was offered to him. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.