Astros expect Springer talks to go down to wire

Astros expect Springer talks to go down to wire

Astros expect Springer talks to go down to wire
PHOENIX -- Negotiations between the Astros and first-round Draft pick George Springer, a center fielder, have picked up speed steam in the last few days, but the club is still expecting talks to continue until Monday's deadline to sign picks.

Springer, 22, was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut, where he hit .343 with 12 homers, 77 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and a .450 on-base percentage during his junior season. He was in Houston last week for a physical and met briefly with Astros manager Brad Mills and general manager Ed Wade.

Bobby Heck, Houston's assistant general manager/director of scouting, said Thursday he had some talks with Greg Genske, Springer's representative, in the last two days and plans to have more over the weekend. Still, there is work to be done before a deal can be reached.

"There's going to need to be significant movement on their end to do a deal, and we probably see this going down to Monday at some time," Heck said.

Springer and his father last month met with the general manager of the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League to explore some options in case he doesn't reach a deal with the Astros.

Teams have until 11:01 p.m. CT on Monday to come to terms with their draftees, meaning official notification has to be in the Commissioner's Office when the clock strikes that time. A team that does not sign its first- or second-round pick will receive a compensatory pick in the 2012 Draft. That selection will come at the same slot, plus one. In other words, if a team doesn't sign the No. 9 overall pick, it would receive the No. 10 pick -- technically 9A -- the following year. A team does not receive a 2012 pick if it does not come to terms with a selection made with a compensation pick this year.

The Astros are undergoing a rebuilding phase and have shown an increasing willingness to move players quickly through the system. They have four players in the Majors that were drafted in 2008 -- including first-round pick Jason Castro, who's on the disabled list -- and within the last three weeks they've promoted three players from Double-A to the Majors.

There could be a good opportunity for Springer to reach the Majors quickly considering the club's center-field position opened up somewhat when two-time Gold Glove winner Michael Bourn was dealt to the Braves at the Trade Deadline.

Meanwhile, the Astros are still hoping to sign third-round pick Jack Armstrong, a pitcher from Vanderbilt University who was in Houston on Thursday to undergo a physical. Armstrong pitched this summer in the Cape Cod League in an effort to re-establish his value following back and groin issues during his junior season in college.

Heck said he expects negotiations between Armstrong and the club to begin once the results of the physical are known. Armstrong is being advised by his father, former Major League pitcher Jack Armstrong Sr.

"Once we have the results back from the physical, which we think will be fine, we'll start exchanging numbers at that point in time, which has been the dad's desire all along -- to start negotiations when Jack's done playing," Heck said.

The physical is key, not only because of the injury problems Armstrong had in school, but he experienced some elbow tenderness last month in the Cape.

"I saw him throw after that setback and the arm looked plenty healthy to me," Heck said.

Springer and Armstrong are the only two picks from among their top 13 selections the Astros have yet to sign.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.