It goes without saying that this deal is a huge potential boon to the Astros. If Singleton turns out to be a quality player, he would have gone well beyond $35 million in his arbitration years and first free agent season, but if Singleton busts, they’re only out $7 or $8 million above and beyond what they would have paid by going year to year. Risking $7 or $8 million for a chance to save upwards of $30 million — let’s assume a high-quality slugging 1B would have earned ~$40 million in future arbitration earnings and another ~$25 million for his first free agent year — is a total no-brainer for a team like the Astros.
This is, obviously, the sort of unprecedented thing the Pirates were trying to do with Gregory Polanco in camp this year, and now the precedent has been set by the Astros and Singleton here. Singleton’s off-field drug issues make this a bit of a unique case aside from the unprecedented nature of the whole thing, but this sort of thing is the obvious conclusion to the Super Two game that teams have been playing for the last five years or so. Even if the Pirates won’t get Polanco inked to an extension before his imminent promotion (well, probably not, at least), that doesn’t mean that they won’t try something like this again in the future.