Why was the Jon Singleton 5 year, $10 million contract extension historic? It was the first deal ever to be handed out to a player yet to see a major league pitch. What were the Astros thinking, right? True, Major League baseball and Minor League baseball are about as different as facing Tom Glavine and Gavin Floyd every night, but before you form any opinions on the subject, consider:
1. Jeff Luhnow
If you like the Cardinals then you need to know that name. He is the current Astros General Manager, but prior to that worked in the Cardinals’ scouting department. Luhnow was instrumental in drafting guys like Allen Craig, Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay, Lance Lynn, Matt Carpenter, and many other guys who have since come through the minor league system to make a huge impact at the big league level. Basically, he knows what he’s doing. Now with the Astros, Luhnow has been working hard to identify some core players like he did with the Cardinals, and he’s been pretty successful: Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel, and now Jon Singleton are all guys who have come through the minor league ranks and have been identified as core players. In Singleton, Luhnow saw a guy that he liked enough to call a core player, and Luhnow is pretty good at what he does.
2. Singleton can hit a ton
Yes, he can. Keep in mind, this is the guy the Astros liked so much that they agreed to part with Hunter Pence back in 2011. Singleton has drawn comparisons to Ryan Howard, both in positive and negative ways: he has great pop, but you’ll have to live with some strikeouts. Singleton’s swings appears to be built for Minute Maid park with the short porch out there, so expect some serious power numbers in the future. Power aside, Singleton has posted a high OBP at every minor league level, so he’s more than an all or nothing kind of guy.
3. This contract is very team-friendly
Even if Singleton struggles to do anything and ends up hurting the Astros’s record, at least he won’t be hurting their wallets. 2 million a year is extremely affordable, especially considering all the outrageous contracts the Astros dished out to guys like Miguel Tejada and Carlos Lee years ago during the Ed Wade era, each of whom failed to hit their weight. If Singleton does great, the team can always pick up the options that will keep him around Houston for a few more years, while he will be far from destitute if you count in all the incentives he could potentially reach. In fact, the incentives and options hold as much as $35 million, so this contract isn’t just team friendly, but is also very favorable to Singleton. The Astros keep getting smarter and smarter, once again demonstrating the importance of a strong, functional front office to success on the field.