Jon Singleton’s rookie deal raises eyebrows of MLB, Cubs
By GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter June 3, 2014 10:39PM
METS AT CUBS
The facts: 7:05 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0, 2.54 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (3-5, 4.81).
Updated: July 5, 2014 6:40AM
If more than a decade of labor peace slips back into contentiousness during the next round of talks, Houston first baseman Jon Singleton might wind up a bigger name for his part in it rather than anything he does on a baseball field.
On the eve of his major-league debut this week, Singleton accepted a five-year, $10-million contract from the Astros that includes club options that cover his first free-agent year. He is the first of several Houston minor leaguers to accept the team-friendly offer from the rebuilding and budget-minded Astros.
“Trust me, we are going to address it,” said Cubs pitcher and union rep Carlos Villanueva, a member of the players’ union’s executive board. “And we are going to find a way to even things out a little more.”
Players and ex-players such as Mark Mulder and Bud Norris were swift in their anger on Twitter to this newer practice by clubs of cost containment through early-career, long-term and low-price contract offers, even as industry revenues continue to rise at record levels.
The Cubs, who are engaged in a nearly mirror-image system overhaul, were part of the trend when they signed Anthony Rizzo to a seven-year, $41 million deal a year ago when he had less than a year of big-league experience.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer called that situation unique because of the relationship several top front-office execs had with Rizzo going back to when he was drafted by Theo Epstein’s Red Sox in 2007 and acquired by Hoyer’s Padres in 2010.
Making an Astros-like offer to an advanced minor-leaguer is not something that has been discussed by Cubs officials.
But Hoyer didn’t specifically rule out considering it in the future.
What’s certain is that the top two, highest-faith candidates for such a deal from the team perspective — Kris Bryant and Albert Almora — are non-starters for such talks. Both employ Scott Boras as their agent.
Meanwhile, Villanueva said he plans to talk to union chief Tony Clark to get a clear understanding of the union’s position on the matter and suggests it’s the responsibility of veteran players and the union to better educate players against accepting extreme team-friendly deals that could cost them tens of millions during their potential top-earning years.
“If it’s better agent regulation, if it’s better education of players, we’ll do whatever we can do to fix that ‘loophole,’ ’’ he said. “Teams can’t play on their own. They need us just like we need them. I’m sure it’ll be addressed. I’m sure it’ll be peaceful, too.”
NOTE: Catcher Welington Castillo was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with inflammation at the back of his rib cage, an injury that forced him from Sunday’s game after three innings. Veteran catcher Eli Whiteside was called up from Class AAA Iowa to take his spot on the roster.