Eventually, a top minor league prospect was going to accept a long-term contract. Especially if it meant the player would get called up to the majors upon signing the deal.
We don’t yet know if Jon Singleton and the Astros are starting a trend toward locking up young talent before they even reach the majors. (Until the rules were changed before the 2012 season, teams could sign top draft picks to major league contracts.) What we do know is that Singleton has agreed to what’s reportedly a five-year deal with three club options and has been recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. He’ll be with the Astros for Tuesday’s game versus the Angels.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, the contract is worth at least $10 million in guaranteed money and could increase to $35 million. If the Astros pick up all three options on Singleton, 22, he won’t become a free agent until 2022, when he’ll be 30 years old. Including the options, the deal would buy out Singleton’s first year of free agency.
Singleton is the first player with no MLB service time to agree to such a contract. The Astros attempted to sign outfielder George Springer to a long-term deal last September, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported in March. Springer was reportedly offered a seven-year contract worth $23 million, but opted to keep his three years of arbitration eligibility and first year of free agency. As a result, the Astros kept Springer in the minors at the beginning of this season.
Reports say that third baseman Matt Dominguez and outfielder Robbie Grossman have also turned down long-term contract offers from the Astros.
The Pirates also reportedly tried to lock one of their top prospects to a long-term deal. In May, Passan reported that Pittsburgh offered outfielder Gregory Polanco a seven-year, $25 million package, along with three club options. Polanco declined the offer and is still with Triple-A Indianapolis as of this writing, despite batting .350 with a .959 OPS, 15 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 46 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Pirates right fielders have hit a combined .256 with a .665 OPS, four homers and 18 RBI as of June 2.
Singleton is a left-handed slugger, batting .267 with a .941 OPS, 10 doubles, 14 home runs and 43 RBI in 239 plate appearances for Oklahoma City this season. He was part of the package of prospects Houston received from the Phillies in exchange for Hunter Pence in 2011. The first baseman was suspended 50 games last year following a positive test for marijuana, his second positive result.
That kind of production should be a significant upgrade at first base for the Astros, who have gotten a collective .181 average, .561 OPS, five homers and 13 RBI from that position this season.