Brady Aiken's surgery highlights amateur inequities

Think about this: If Brady Aiken had been Cuban, he would have gotten, what, a $50 million bonus? $60 million? More? Some team likely would have given him that.

Instead, constrained to the draft, Aiken could instead negotiate with just one team: the Houston Astros. They selected the talented left-hander first overall last June. When the Astros expressed concern over an MRI on Aiken's elbow and decreased their offer to Aiken, negotiations broke down and Aiken went unsigned. But the draft rules don't allow him to become a free agent or sign with another team. He was stuck. So he enrolled in the IMG Academy to prepare for the 2015 draft but left his first start after 12 pitches. Now this:

You feel bad for the kid. Still, despite the surgery, there's a good chance Aiken goes in the first round of the draft, maybe even in the top 10. Last year, the Blue Jays selected Jeff Hoffman ninth overall even though he had Tommy John surgery late in his season at East Carolina. Before the injury, Hoffman had been a potential first overall selection.

The Blue Jays had the benefit of owning two first-round picks, the ninth and 11th, after not signing their first-round pick the year before. Only the Astros -- because they didn't sign Aiken -- have two picks in the first round this year. They select second and fifth. Don't think we'll see Houston going down that road again. Two teams you could see gambling on Aiken include the Red Sox (selecting seventh) and the Cubs (picking ninth).

The Astros got vilified last summer after the breakdown, a situation that also resulted in the club's failure to sign another pick whose agreed-to bonus was tied to Aiken signing for a lesser amount. Everyone loves to love the player and bash management, but at this point it seems fair to say the Astros' concern over Aiken's health was justified. In the end they either had to sign him, knowing his elbow might be a health risk, or make a lowball offer that if rejected still resulted in the Astros getting the second pick in 2015. Their choice doesn't look like a wrong one now.

Yes, Aiken reportedly still turned down $5 million in the end. Hoffman signed last year for $3.08 million, so Aiken probably can expect something similar if he goes in the same range. And, of course, if he develops into a successful big league pitcher, he'll eventually make more millions.

Today, maybe both Aiken and the Astros look like they drew a short straw. But there's a good chance both end up winners in the long run.