The Major League Baseball Players Association has filed a grievance against the Astros after the team did not sign left-hander Brady Aiken, the first overall pick in June's First-Year Player Draft.
The news was first reported by MurrayChass.com and later by FoxSports.com. MLB has not commented on the reports.
Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe issued the following statement on Thursday: "We will not comment on any MLB/union procedure. Throughout the player signing process, we have continuously kept MLB informed of the situation involving our Draft picks and they have repeatedly approved of our handling of the situation."
Two days after the Astros selected him with the No. 1 overall pick, Aiken agreed to terms on a $6.5 million bonus that would have matched the bonus record for a high school pitcher. A subsequent physical led to questions about Aiken's elbow, and the team revised its proposal. MLB.com reported that the Astros' final offer before the July 18 deadline to sign drafted players was slightly more than $5 million.
The union's concern is that the team wanted to use the money it saved on Aiken to sign two pitchers taken later in the Draft: fifth-rounder Jacob Nix and 21st-rounder Mac Marshall. Each team is assigned a figure that it's allowed to spend for signing all its picks. If a team exceeds its number, it is penalized by a tax on the excess and/or the loss of future Draft choices.
"We are disappointed that we were not able to reach an agreement with Brady Aiken today," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said after the deadline. "As an organization, we devoted a great deal of time and resources to these negotiations. Despite our best efforts, a deal could not be reached.
"The Astros' offer to Brady was extremely fair considering all the factors involved in this case. As always, we approached these negotiations in good faith and with the best interests of the Astros organization in mind, both short-term and long-term. Throughout this entire process, we have absolutely acted within Major League Baseball's rules and guidelines, which MLB has confirmed on numerous occasions."
On the same day, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark issued a statement that said the union, the players involved and their advisors were "exploring all legal options."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.