Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

It is going to be an annual debate until it happens. Either the Angels are going to do what they must to get Mike Trout signed long-term or he will walk into free agency at 26 (!), potentially staring at the richest contract in the game’s history.

Last August, Kevin Goldstein (then of Baseball Prospectus, now of the Houston Astros) polled the baseball industry and asked what kind of deal front office types would offer Mike Trout at that time. Getting Blanked opened the discussion on our hallowed pages and the consensus was “whatever” he wants”, also a pull-quote from Goldstein’s piece.

Now 11 months have passed and the question is no less terrifying than it was at that time: what kind of deal does Mike Trout deserve?

When Goldstein’s piece went live last year, Trout owned a .345/.409/.597 line with 20 home runs. In the 525-odd plate appearances since, all he’s done is put up a .306/.389/.533 line with 25 home runs – though he increased his walk rate, cut his strikeouts, improved his contact rate while swinging a far fewer pitches outside the strike zone. He also stole 33 bases and hit 9 triples as a center fielder.

Worth noting: Goldstein’s piece went up one day after Trout’s 21st birthday – meaning he is yet to celebrate his 22nd.

With another full year of data supporting the claim that Mike Trout is all but the best player in the game, what kind of contract would you offer him? More insane to think about: what kind of contract might Trout actually turn down?

This post pivots off a series of tweets from a few Red Sox fans watching Trout more closely than usual with the Sox visiting Anaheim over the weekend. One, astute Sox fan and recovered blogger Patrick Sullivan, said he would slide a 10 year/$150 million contract across the table with no hesitation. On twitter, many responded that Trout would be crazy…to accept it.

Mike Trout is sitting on a winning lottery ticket, though one he cannot cash in for years. He doesn’t hit free agency until after the 2017 season. He is earning just $510 000 this season. Literally anything can happen over the next four years – how could he turn down a nine-figure contract?

Even allowing for the typical arbitration accounting (40/60/80 percent of market value is the working shorthand), can Mike Trout afford to take just $15 mil per annum (AAV) for his free agent years? That figure might represent HALF what he’ll get if he becomes a free agent in 2018. It’s crazy but it’s true – there is almost no figure that won’t see too low for a player who, even after signing a ten-year deal today, would hit free agency at age 32.

A few of the aforementioned Sox fans discussed Trout’s lack of options as it relates to his own equity or “reinsurance”, a concept with which I am in no way familiar. That has to factor into his decision to get paid now versus rolling the incredibly valuable dice.

So you tell me: less than one year later, what would YOU offer Mike Trout with the hope that he accepts? There is no number too big, is there? If you don’t want to pay him or he’s determined to hit free agency, can you trade Mike Trout?

Comments (27)

  1. I would offer a 15 year deal worth 300 million today.

    • WHAT! That with Pujol’s albatross of a contract, The Angels will cripple themselves. They are nit the dodgers ir yankees

      • It is not crazy if you take into account inflation and the ever rising level of player salaries. Go look at what contracts were at in 1999. It was 1.7 million. In 2012 it was 3.4 million.

        It is definitely super risky to lock in that much money, banking on another human being’s body and talent standing up. I don’t think it is crazy though.

        • What’s more, there has been something of a lag in player salary increases following the recession 2009-2011. If you look at the preceding 6-8 years there was significantly faster growth in salaries. Even 2011 to 2012 saw a +4% increase.

  2. Go year to year in arby….

    Trade him in 2 years.

    The cost and length of contract isn’t worth the risk of continued health and performance for the term of contract and return in assets if traded.

    The first Longoria deal was worth it, this won’t be.

    • You’re going to trade Mike Trout? You know they are a business, right? One in which they rely heavily on consume confidence?

      • This is true, but it ignores an important question:

        What would the haul be for Mike Trout if he were traded?

        Not saying it’s the right move because it’s almost definitely not, but it’s worth asking that question before dismissing the idea as a bad business move.

      • The marlins do it all the time! ditch players, triple crown winners

  3. If the Angels offered him a $150M deal and he turned it down, that would be insane.

    Sure, that may be a “discount” (as insane as that sounds), but $150M should set up several generations of Trouts up for life. So much can happen between now and when he hits free agency…mainly injuries. How would he feel if he turned down $150M and then suffered a serious career threatening injury?

    Baseball salaries are insane…if $150M for a 21 year old is considered a lowball offer, there is a problem with the economics of the game in my opinion.

  4. 250m/12 yrs. Paying him an average of $20.8 a year over the course of the deal and I honestly don’t know if he would take that. It would be a good deal for the Angels, as 20/year for a player of his talent in 5-7 years will be considerably under-market value.

  5. is the question (‘what would YOU offer…’) aimed at someone representing the team that controls his rights (i.e. the angels), or another team would could acquire him as a FA right now? IMO, any other team (with the means, obv.) would offer him a ‘crazy’ deal right now if it meant he joined said team right now – in the ballpark of what’s been mentioned above (10-12yrs/$250M-ish). but the angels do have time on their hands…the caveat is that the closer they get to the end of their control, the higher the asking price will be.

    i assume the ideal situation (from the angels’ POV) is to find that middle ground where trout is willing to give up some $$ in exchange for a lifetime of financial security. and for fans of every other team (that can afford a huuuge mega contract), the ideal situation is for the angels to fuck it up so he can hit the market. or even better, continue to offer insulting low-ball offers for the next 3-4 years, insulting him to the point that he lets them know he won’t sign with them, so they panic trade him in 2015 for $.15 on the dollar.

    given how the angels toss $ around, i can’t see it happening. i imagine they’ll ink him to an extension before 2015 for somewhere in the 10/$200 range.

  6. Trout getting ALL of the money.

  7. Lincecum from 2009 says hello. Comparing pitchers to batters is a little unfair but I’m sure he’s a cautionary tail for turning down guaranteed money.

    If we really want to get technical about it, you need to factor in the value of having 15M now, as opposed to 30M in a few years. The time value of money does even things out a little.

  8. No way Trout accepts that long a deal right away. I think he’d take a 6-7 year deal, maybe 120-130M. Buys out his arb years, a few FA years, and he hits free agency at 27-28. Still plenty of Trout left to sign another huge deal.

  9. if you signed him today you would have to include future inflation

    the contract would be indexed to rise every year

    arb years i think would be in the 8-10-12 mil range going year t year then it’s conceivable to average 27.5 mil per year for another 10

    12 yrs 325 mil starting with the first arb year

  10. what an awesome problem to have if youre Mike Trout or his agent

  11. This will be fun to watch for sure. I think rarely will a deal that is crazy long (9+ years) work out for the team. There is just way to much that can happen over such a long period of time.
    Tough for Trout to judge as well. “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” is my philosiphy (for whatever little that is worth), if they’re gonna offer you 10 years of guarenteed money, take it.
    I’m not gonna pretend to know how to handle all that money, but I think making 15 mil a year now, instead of waiting 4 years to make even 30 is a good move. I’m sure Trout has access to people who could make that cash stretch ;)
    And after all that to be able to hit free agency at 32 is not the worst.

  12. I think that if Trout were smart he would take the best deal he could get at a max of 8 years and then do it all over again at age 30, which is still quite young for a FA.
    150-200 million by the time you’re 30 sounds pretty damn good. And a chance to make another 200 or so on your next contract.

  13. If I was Trout I’d ask for 10 years/300 million. Someone would give him that, at the very least he could walk away with something around 8-10 years at 25-28 million a season.

  14. The first number that popped into my head aught to get the job done: 20 years, $400MM

  15. I think the headline says it all… a zillion dollars.

  16. Mike Trout should go all Dr. Evil in negotiations… and threaten to destroy all of the major cities around the world:

  17. Looking at this from a reasonable standpoint, there are certain figures that must be factored in. First, what Trout means to the Angels. Their biggest homegrown superstar of all time, the face of the franchise, the biggest draw and probably the best baseball player to debut in the last 20 years. He’s what Pujols was to the Cards, what Griffey was to the M’s, what Bonds was to the Pirates. The irony is that all three of those players went to different teams. As an organization, the Angels simply cannot afford to let Mike Trout go at age 26. Yet at the same time, there’s no reason to sign him to an extension unless it’s something that works for the Angels. But it has to be something so good that Trout has to accept.

    With that said, you want to buy out Trout’s prime, but still leave him enough time to get a reasonably strong visit to free agency later in his career. Trout probably wouldn’t accept anything that takes him to his age 32 season because then teams would know they are buying the end part of his career and his kind of speed won’t last forever. But if he were to visit free agency at age 30, that’s reasonably land him a contract well north of 5 years truckloads of cash. The contract offer right now would be 8 years.

    As far as the AAV. Figure that Trout will be making less than a million a year for the next two years, followed by 3 years in which is AAV would probably be around 14 million. To buy out 4 years of free agency would like result in 4 years worth 120 million. So the number the negotiations would start at is 8 years, 135 million. Now Trout would obviously want to start making his average salary of the 8 year contract (17 million) earlier in his career than age 26, on top of which, that’s just market value, Trout’s going to get that anyway. The Angels need to offer something worth taking. Trout getting paid 22 million a year from now to age 30 would definitely be something he should accept. He’d be paid as a superstar and still possibly get paid even more in free agency. So add another 40 million on top of the contract, which would bring it up to 8 years 176 million. But the Angels also recognize there must be some value in the pick for them other than getting Trout at a slight bargain for his 20′s. Splitting the difference between the two (8/135 and 8/176) should work for both sides.

    So my simple conclusion, 20 million a year across the next 8 years. So the contract that’d be worth both sides consideration would be 8 years, 160 million.

  18. 8/180 with an option looking at as an Angel GM. Trout’s agent probably asks for 10/285.

  19. A consensus building here ( is that Trout will sign with the Yankees for 10 years and $290MM+. The Angels will find a way to not sign him.

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