The formal offer was clearly made to ensure that they received draft pick compensation. They knew that there was absolutely no way that Aiken was going to accept that offer. To me, that just shows that they were no longer negotiating in good faith, and that is probably how Aiken/Close felt as well.
Iowa, James, et al. Great points. I was definitely aiming 'strong'...right or wrong.
The 'overall direction' would be that it seems that the Astros are attempting to go 'cheap' and not in good faith in dealing with their players and putting a competitive product out there.
For context I will 'divulge' that my strategy does involve a point where it's 'time to sell' in it, namely each year when my team(s) are beyond competing, I'm very much for try the youth movement and in essence 'giving up'...or at least 'sell mode'...but I do believe that's being competitive still as you're trying to be better (next year). But I do believe I would need to put up a spirited fight/team together at first, or at least to the best of the abilities and assets allocated to me.
Application: At this point with the Twins, I'm in 'sell mode'...but I do believe they gave an 'honest effort' to be competitive at the beginning of the year vs a "doormat to the West" like I believe the Astros have been doing the past 3, now 4 years. The Astros should have had Springer up Day 1. He honestly should have gotten a few AB's in Sept last year, if not solidly in the mix on opening day. I understand Super 2 as well as anyone. But at $26M last year and the $50M this year, $60M in 2012...they'll have plenty of money saved up to pay Springer that money going forward. The 'average' team salary is around $78M NOT counting the outliers of the Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees...
Astros Salary Info: http://www.baseballp...houston-astros/http://www.baseball-.../HOU/2013.shtml