By Jon Meoli
The Baltimore Sun
2:27 PM EDT, June 3, 2014
Bud Norris has been in Baltimore for almost a year, but it appears he’s kept a keen eye on the goings-on back in Houston.
The Orioles right-hander took to Twitter Tuesday morning to tear into the contract extension the Astros signed prospect Jon Singleton to yesterday, and said the deal is "terrible." Norris added Singleton should have listened to the players union, not his agent.
Singleton, who was promoted to the majors Monday, signed a club-friendly extension without ever taking a swing in the big leagues. The deal was reported to be worth $10 million over five years, and with three options and built-in bonuses, he could make as much as $35 million over eight years.
The extension made waves on social media on Monday, but Norris is perhaps the most high-profile critic to emerge thus far.
The Astros have reportedly tried to sign similar team-friendly contracts with outfielder Robbie Grossman, third baseman Matt Dominguez, and slugging outfielder George Springer. Singleton was the first to take advantage of it, exchanging guaranteed money up-front in exchange for cost certainty on the team’s end as Singleton works toward arbitration and free agency.
The contract gives Singleton unprecedented security as he tries to replicate his Triple-A Oklahoma City line -- .267/.397/.544 with 14 home runs -- in the majors.
But Norris, who was quoted last month in a Houston Chronicle article about the Astros’ rebuilding method, hasn’t hidden his opinions on his former club’s methods.
"They are definitely the outcast of major league baseball right now, and it's kind of frustrating for everyone else to have to watch it," Norris told the Chronicle. "When you talk to agents, when you talk to other players and you talk amongst the league, yeah, there's going to be some opinions about it, and they're not always pretty."
From a union perspective, the deal harms other prospects in similar situations as Singleton. Teams have put a premium on locking down young players to team-friendly deals to prevent them from reaching free agency, but most of those deals are fair to both team and player.
The way he hits the ball, Singleton could be worth what he’s guaranteed in his contract with one good season. Aside from 2013, when Singleton said he was battling alcohol issues following a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy, he has been one of the minors’ most promising sluggers.
Some are taking issue with whether Norris, or any big leaguer, is in a place to comment on what amounts to a personal decision for Singleton. But I’m with Norris here. The precedent set by this deal — even if it’s never followed — will be discussed in contract negotiations for baseball’s brightest stars for years to come.
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