In the days, weeks, months, and years that follow you're going to read a lot about Mike Trout in these pages. At any one time, we usually have at least one writer composing a piece about the Angels' star player. It's a bit of a running joke. We even had a Twitter experience earlier this month in which we had people photoshop his likeness into famous photographs. We almost renamed the site "Beyond The Trout Score." He's fascinating and pushing the boundaries of what we think is possible on a baseball field. And now he's just signed a six year, $140 million extension with the Angels, giving us all kinds of reasons to talk and talk about our favorite subject.
Trout could have made more. He's the best player in the league by far and is entering his age 22 season. He'll make $1 million in 2014 and then the six year deal will kick in starting in 2015. He'll be a free agent again at age 29. To give you an idea, Miguel Cabrera was just guaranteed $292 million at age 31 starting from a lower ceiling. Seven years from now, the dollar value that Trout will command is probably a number that doesn't yet exist. If Trout went year to year, he'd have made something like $60 million before free agency and would then have a chance at a contract in $400-$500 million range. He gave away some potential earnings to lock in a crazy amount of money.
The deal is both massive and way too small. The Angels crushed it. They have the game's best player in the fold for the next seven seasons and it's probably only going to take him three years for him to provide enough value to make this a good deal. There are no negatives for the Angels here.
Trout is the best player of his era. He's one third of the way to the Hall of Fame after two seasons. He made the choice to take $140 million and a shot at free agency at 29 rather than $60 million and a shot at free agency at 26. Players seem to be rather risk averse when it comes to projecting the potential for serious injury. The only way Trout makes less going year to year is if he has some type of horrible, career altering injury. And certainly there's an insurance policy out there that would have protected him.
The best part about this deal is that Mike Trout, perhaps the baseball player with the least human skill set, seems to have made a very human choice. The Angels came with a $140 million offer. Mike Trout is 22 and the king of his profession. Does the $50-$80 million he left on the table really matter for someone who's going to be a hundred millionaire? Not really, it seems.
We spend a lot of time talking about the economics of the game and markets, but Trout is clearly motivated by things other than money. He's 22 and has more cash than he'll ever be able to spend. Not only is he the best player in the league, but he's now cemented himself as the most valuable player in the league as well. The Angels bought Trout's first three free agent seasons for $80 million. It's hard to imagine a better value than that and Trout's legacy is now at the nexus of "super amazing baseball player" and "guy who doesn't care about money and is willing to play for less than he's worth."
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
Neil Weinberg is the Associate Managing Editor at Beyond The Box Score, a contributor to Gammons Daily, and can also be found writing enthusiastically about the Detroit Tigers at New English D. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter at @NeilWeinberg44.