After 34 months in prison, former No. 1 overall draft pick Matt Bush will get an opportunity to play baseball again. The Texas Rangers signed Bush to a minor-league deal Friday.
Bush is considered one of the biggest draft busts of all time. His numbers on the field never matched his draft slot, but it was his antics off the field that cemented his legacy.
Bush has had numerous run-ins with the law, most of which have involved alcohol. He was suspended before he ever took the field with the San Diego Padres organization after getting into a fight outside a bar in Arizona.
After struggling to hit early in his career, the Padres converted Bush to a pitcher in 2007. He underwent Tommy John surgery, and missed all of 2008.
In 2009, Bush’s off the field issues returned. He was allegedly involved in a drunken brawl at a high school where he assaulted two lacrosse players. The Padres cut ties with Bush shortly after the incident, sending him to the Toronto Blue Jays.
He didn’t last long. A little over a month later, Bush reportedly threw a baseball at a woman’s headand banged her head on a car window while attending a party. The Blue Jays released Bush following the incident.
Bush received another opportunity with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. He pitched in the team’s minor-league system in both 2010 and 2011, and was moving closer to the majors. Bush had a chance to open the season in Triple-A in 2012, but was involved in another off the field incident.
During spring training, Bush was arrested for multiple DUI-related charges. He hit a 72-year-old man with a truck, and then drove over the man’s head while fleeing the scene. Bush was also driving with a suspended license. Bush eventually accepted a plea bargain which called for 51 months in prison.
Bush was released in October after serving 34 months of his sentence, and is now going on his fourth chance in baseball. He’s now 29, and hasn’t played professionally since 2011. While he showed some promise as a pitcher, it’s a puzzling signing by Texas.
Bush served his time, yes, but he also has a history of awful behavior. If he was not a former No. 1 overall pick, there’s no chance he would be back in baseball. Though it’s just a minor-league signing, the Rangers organization will now have to face questions about whether signing Bush is really worth the risk given his past.