So What Does a Mike Trout Extension Look Like Now?

Speculating about how much money it would take to sign Mike Trout to a long term deal has become something of a sport unto itself. Ever since he broke into the big leagues and almost immediately established himself as the best player in baseball, people have wondered aloud about what kind of deal he could command. The fires were stoked even further when the Angels decided to renew his contract for just $510,000 last year, allowing him to rack up another +10 WAR season and get even closer to free agency. Now, with just four years of team control remaining, the Angels are reportedly hoping to get Trout signed to a long term deal that will keep in Anaheim for the foreseeable future.

So, let’s play the Mike Trout Extension Game again. With Freddie Freeman resetting the extension market for players with three years of service time, we have a new data point to work with anyway, and so we probably need to update our prior estimates to reflect the new reality of extension pricing. So let’s work through the numbers and see what we can come up with.

The next four years are the easy part. While arbitration prices aren’t set in stone, they are not that difficult to model, as the system depends heavily on historical precedents. While Trout would likely be the best player to ever go to arbitration if he got there, the thing that makes him particularly extraordinary — that he’s this good at such a young age — is not eligible for consideration in an arbitration hearing. Trout’s extension will absolutely take into account his youth, but his arbitration prices will not, as they would simply be based on what he’s done relative to other players with similar levels of service time, regardless of the fact that he’s five or six years younger than some of his comparisons.

However, Trout would still likely be in line for record arbitration payouts, especially if his 2014 season results in another +9 to +10 WAR performance as the forecasts project. He might not have the MVP trophy that Ryan Howard possessed when he set the record with a $10 million arbitration award in 2008, but his back to back second place finishes still count in his favor and will carry a lot of weight, and of course, there’s some chance he’d win the MVP if allowed to play out 2014, so the Angels will have to factor that possibility into the price. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Trout would break every arbitration record if he was allowed to go year to year, and the Angels will likely have to pay prices that reflect that expectation in his extension.

For comparison, Howard’s four arbitration years went $10M/$15M/$19M/$20M, though the last three were bought out by an extension prior to the 2009 season. In total, though, Howard made $64 million before reaching free agency, and this was before the television rights explosion. Of course, he also had the benefit of going to arbitration four times, which Trout will not have, so he’ll have to make do with three record payouts instead of four. If we give him $15M/$20M/$25M, Trout would get $60 million over his final three arbitration years. The Angels might want to negotiate those down a bit in a long term deal, but that’s probably the expectation of what he’s likely to get if they go year to year, so we can speculate that an extension for Trout would have to be backed onto the $60 million he’s likely to get over the next four years.

So now the question becomes how many free agent years Trout is willing to sell, and at what price. Because Trout is so young, there’s an opportunity for both sides to reach a long term deal that doesn’t carry Trout beyond his 30th birthday, allowing him to get a chance at a second huge contract if he maintains his historic pace. As we’ve seen with recent extensions for Freeman, Clayton Kershaw, and Elvis Andrus, young players signing long term deals have put a real value on the chance to hit free agency again while still young enough to land a second monster contract. While there will likely be some speculation about longer term deals, I think a nine year deal that ends after Trout’s age-30 season is the right mix of security for Trout while also setting himself up to be a premium free agent for a second time.

A nine year deal means that Trout would be selling five of his free agent years. What should those years cost? This is where it gets a little trickier. The recent trend in early career extensions has been to essentially pay something close to current market price for future free agent years. Essentially, teams are buying out future inflation and paying for the right to not have to sign a long term deal that takes a player into his mid-30s, and in exchange for those benefits, the player gets something close to the $6 million per win market rate for their FA years.

Well, that presents a little bit of a dilemma with Trout, because $6 million per win for a +9 WAR player leads to a $54 million per year salary. As good as Trout is, he’s not getting $50+ million per year four years from free agency. Kershaw’s just-signed $215 million extension guaranteed him an average of roughly $32.5 million per year the six free agent years he sold, and while I believe that Trout will beat that AAV, we’re not going to see a leap from $33M to $50M, especially considering their relative proximity to free agency.

But as good and as young as Kershaw is, the reality remains that Trout is significantly better, projecting for roughly +4 WAR per season more than Kershaw going forward. In fact, Trout’s forecasts suggest he is, by himself, as valuable as Kershaw and Freeman put together, and they combined to sell their FA years for pretty close to that $54 million per year mark. While we could put together a reasonable argument that Trout is worth $50M per year for his free agent years, he’s not going to get that; it’s just too far removed from the norms of the day.

As crazy as it sounds, $40 million per year for those five years would actually represent something of a discount, given Trout’s expected production going forward. Even though it’s quite a bit more than Kershaw got, Trout is quite a bit better than Kershaw, and comes with less risk since he isn’t a pitcher. And the separation would be large enough that Trout would likely remain the game’s highest paid player even with future inflation, as that AAV in those years is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon.

Pricing those free agent years at $40 million apiece, in addition to the $60 million he’d be getting for his remaining years of team control, would bring the total deal to $260 million over nine years. The deal would fall short of being the largest contract in baseball history, but would easily be the largest deal for any player still under team control. If Trout was particularly interested in breaking A-Rod’s record, adding a 10th year to push the deal to $300 million in total wouldn’t be that difficult, and should still be something the Angels are interested in doing.

These numbers might seem insane for a non-free agent, but the longer the Angels wait, the more expensive this is going to get. If they want to avoid a bidding war that might eventually push Trout’s total contract up near $400 million, they should get him signed sooner than later. 9/$260M or 10/$300M might sound insane, but really, it would represent Trout taking a bit less than what he’s actually worth. That’s how good he is. And that’s why this deal is going to have to be enormous.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

222 Responses to “So What Does a Mike Trout Extension Look Like Now?”

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  1. Tim says:

    Trout seems like the ideal case for going year-to-year. His value is really unlikely to go up from here.

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    • Anon says:

      The closer to FA Trout goes, the more likely he will not give any FA years. That path would allow him to sign a huge 10 year FA contract with opt-outs at times of his choosing.

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    • byron says:

      It’d be interesting to model what kind of year he’d have to have for his value to stay the same. Another 10-win season, and a year closer to free agency, and the value’s going up. But maybe if he has a 5-win season? What if he somehow had a 1.5 win season? What would he sign for after a 2014 where he inexplicably hits 240/320/380 with subpar defense and no injuries?

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      • Dave says:

        I don’t see how anyone who has ever watched Trout play could take seriously the possibility that he would hit 240/320/380.

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        • byron says:

          Oh, OK.

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        • B N says:

          Really? What if he had the dreaded, but vague “wrist pain” or “fatigue”? The truth is, every player has a bad season here or there. You know who I wouldn’t have expected to have hit 255/289/405 in his first year of a big contract? Carl Crawford. But he did it. And I will tell you, you can save a lot of money by waiting to sign a guy after a bad season compared to a good one…

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        • Gabe says:

          But Carl Crawford in his best season was never as good as Mike Trout. Crawford’s best season was at peak age too (28, last season with TB), while Trout hasn’t come close to reaching his peak age.

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        • Garrett says:

          Gabe,

          That post is ridiculous.

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        • FOH says:

          You can’t be serious. This is a 230~ lb man who throws himself into walls and dirt without abandon. Given his value, he’s a reckless player who, I’d bet, I will wind up costing himself millions because of his refusal to calm the fuck down. Mike, there’s a reason why the top 25 defenders aren’t paid jack but the top 25 bats are. Prioritize, young man!

          No troll, I would sign Cano for his present contract way before signing Trout for the same at his age. Pujols also.

          Anyone who argues with that, name me one. Name me one OFer built like a MLB whose defensive stats were half his value, and who didn’t wreck himself before his 27th-28th bday.

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        • Catoblepas says:

          Carl Crawford =/= Mike Trout

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        • Travis L says:

          Well, I mean, in his first 135 PA he hit .220/.281/.390…

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        • byron says:

          I just wanted to theorize about what would happen in those different scenarios, I’m not sure why Dave felt like he had to inform me one was unlikely and the whole thread has become a debate on projecting Trout’s actual value.

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        • Dave says:

          Well, he did say “without being injured.” Obviously, anything can happen with injuries. I could see a “bad” healthy season for Trout being perhaps around an 800 OPS, but not 700. That would still bring down the price quite a bit. Somehow I actually think he may get a little better, though!

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        • B N says:

          @Gabe: Anyone want to set the over/under that Mike Trout has already had his best WAR season? I think Trout is great. I think he’s got a ton of value ahead of him.

          But projecting a guy with two 10 WAR seasons to have room to grow is insanity. Could it happen, definitely. Is it more likely than an injury or other factors that halve his value (to the mere-superstar level of 5 WAR)? Certainly.

          Plus, aging curves pretty much state that defense and speed tend to do nothing but remain steady or decline. So if you’re projecting him to improve, you’re basically banking that somehow his hitting/body is not adequately developed and he could hit better than this. Given that he is already unprecedented, this MIGHT be possible. But I’d take the under on this too. If he got much better, they’d just give him the Barry Bonds treatment. You can only be so good when people pitch around you constantly.

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        • bstar says:

          I’ll take the over on that one, B N. I think you’re underestimating the quality of a player who can put up a 10+ WAR season early in his career.

          Here are the guys who have put up a 10 WAR season at age 25 or younger (B-Ref numbers):

          Ruth
          Gehrig
          Mantle
          Hornsby
          Cobb
          Mays
          Trout
          Williams
          E Collins
          Foxx
          A-Rod
          Speaker

          Not counting Trout, that’s 11 players. Over the course of their careers (past age 25), eight of those players put up 22 more seasons of 10+ WAR, with only Foxx, Collins, and A-Rod never being that valuable in a season again.

          I understand it’s possible there’s no longer an aging curve anymore. If Trout does put up a few more 10+ WAR seasons, I’d agree they likely aren’t going to be monster Bonds/Ruth type of seasons.

          But you never know. What if he becomes a 40+ HR guy down the road? What if he improves a little defensively? I think it’s a stretch to suggest he’s peaked in the outfield at age 21.

          Trout was a little better with the bat last year than 2012 but worse in the field. All he has to do to put his biggest season yet is have a 2013 offensive year and a 2012 defensive one. If he did that he’d be over 11 WAR. Certainly very possible.

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        • John C says:

          I don’t see him getting any better defensively than he already is. That part of his game is likely to decline in a hurry. He probably isn’t going to maintain the speed part of his game at the same level for much longer, because most players, even great players, simply don’t do that.

          However, he might more than make up for that by moving up from a 30-homer player to a 40-homer player. He still has room to grow as a hitter, even if the physical abilities are probably at their peak already. As far as the potential for injuries go, I look at it this way. Mickey Mantle had about as terrible an injury as a young player can have when he was 19, and he still went on to be better than anyone else in the league until he was 32. Trout is so good that he could tear up a knee and lose his speed at 22, and he still might put enough runs on the board to justify a $30 million salary.

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        • Dan says:

          but there is the chance of injury

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        • Babyspittle says:

          Last year didn’t Trout play mostly left field?

          Wouldn’t the same season he put up result in more WAR while playing primarily CF?

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        • hansman says:

          THE EYE TEST, DAVE! THE EYE TEST!!!!

          While improbable, if he gets a bad start out of the gate, gets injured (better hope its not a hamstring or a wrist)and limps to the finish really hampers his extension value.

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      • Baltar says:

        If Trout is getting $40M a few years from now, he will probably only need about 5 WAR to justify it.

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    • JJ says:

      I love Angel’s scout Greg Morhart’s initial report on Trout, when he was 17: “Best athlete. Best player in the world—period. Best player on the planet.”

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    • JS7 says:

      FanGraphs really need to introduce WBT (Wins Below Trout).

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    • Nick says:

      Uh, if his value is as high as it’s going to be doesn’t the mean he SHOULD sign an extension?

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      • NS says:

        The other option was to interpret his comment as speaking of the *team’s* best interests, which would make complete sense. Yet you went with this one.

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      • John says:

        Not if the difference between what he can get now versus his current value is so great that even if his value goes down, he can still make more than what their greatest offer will be.

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    • Baltar says:

      I can’t imagine both the team and Trout wanting to go year-to-year.
      When I saw the title of this post, I immediately thought 10-years $300M.
      I was pleasantly surprised that Dave came out to the same numbers with logical reasoning.
      That’s a lot of money, but, as Dave pointed out, it’s $60M total for the 4 years of team control and $40M per year for the 6 FA years.
      It’s fair to both sides. The Angels would be taking a big risk, but with the likelihood of getting a bargain, perhaps a very big bargain with salary inflation likely in those future years. Mike would be getting $300M. How could anybody turn that down?

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  2. nik says:

    Don’t do it Mike, play out your years in LA and then come to your hometown team. We just got $2.5 billion new reasons why you gotta come back East.

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  3. jacaissie says:

    I agree that valuing his free agent years at $40m/year would be a huge bargain for the Angels–and also a huge risk. I don’t know why either side would do that. If I’m the Angels, I take my relatively cheap years of team control, and if he’s still cranking out 10-WAR seasons, I happily extend him for 6 years/$350 million in 2017/2018.

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    • Frank says:

      I agree with this logic, but whatever offer you come up with the Yankees will offer the same thing plus 2-4 years and probably some kind of stupid contract arrangement that gives Trout an outrageous player option, the right to be the league’s first player-GM, and a 49% ownership stake in the team.

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      • Kevin says:

        Do you realize what 49% of the Yankees would be worth? With the Dodgers worth 2.0 Billion you have to think that the Forbes valuation at 2.4 Billion is a little light no? The scary thing is, if he makes it to unrestricted free agency, Trout could actually make more over his career than some teams are worth.

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  4. LK says:

    I really want Trout to go year-to-year, stay healthy, and continue to be the game’s best player, just to see how high the bidding would get once he reached FA.

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  5. Mike Green says:

    We’ve had this discussion. The odds are better than even, looking at the historical precedents, that Trout actually has better years than he has had. On balance, projecting him for 9 WAR/season through age 30 is about right.

    Kershaw is a long, long way from Trout. $45 million/year for the free agent years makes sense for him (and actually an underpayment), and I am pretty sure that the Yankees would pay it if the opportunity arose.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      Or…Grady Sizemore.

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    • The Party Bird says:

      Wasn’t there an article here recently that suggested that the classic aging curve was no longer relevant and that players should be expected to decline from the moment they debut? Something to think about, at least.

      Trout will probably have to improve his power numbers to improve overall from here and his batted ball distance doesn’t support that idea.

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      • Billy says:

        I don’t think it was so much that they’re in decline from the moment they debut, but just that they’re not getting that much better after that. Like they’re peak starts earlier and they sit on a plateau for a while before they start declining around the same time players always have. That was my understanding at least.

        In other words, you don’t see the marked improvement in the years before age 25 or 26 as much as we used to.

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        • The Party Bird says:

          Very good point (my wording was dreadful), although I still don’t believe Trout is likely to improve as a player, with both the aging curve data and his own rather lackluster batted ball distance (of the 60 players who hit more than 20 home runs in 2013, Trout was in the bottom ten in average fly ball distance, and nobody above 22 taters was worse)

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        • Erik says:

          I’m not entirely sure what to make of his ‘lackluster batted ball distance.’ The dude hits line drives and he hits the ball far. I loved watching Trumbo hit balls out of the park the last few years but all of the most memorable homers were from Trout. Just ask Tiger and A’s fans about some of the balls he’s hit against them.

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    • Luke in MN says:

      Willie Mayes had about 8.5 WAR/season over about the same span. Can we agree to use Willie Mayes as a hard cap on reasonable expectations?

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  6. RC says:

    I think Trout is the best player in baseball at this point, but 25% of the luxury tax ceiling on one player is an awful lot of risk in one place.

    Trout is really young, but we’ve seen enough players (not at his level though) peak early and decline (BJ Upton, etc), and seen enough players with career altering injuries, that I think its too much. $40M/yr is enough money that an injury could basically crush the franchise for years.

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    • Mike Green says:

      It’s the psychology of paying for what a player has already done vs. what a player is likely to do. Clayton Kershaw is much, much more likely to decline than Mike Trout, and he is nowhere near as valuable to his club.

      The Angels may not be ready to make that psychological leap (viz Albert Pujols), but if that is the case, they can expect that they will not have Mike Trout for ages 26-30.

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      • Anon21 says:

        I don’t necessarily want to be the “viz.” guy, but that’s not how you use viz. First of all, it’s generally set off with a comma, not parentheses. Second, it’s always terminated with a period, regardless of its location in the sentence. Third, it means “that is,” which means you are saying Albert Pujols is a psychological leap. I think what you’re looking for here is “see.”

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        • Mike Green says:

          I agree that “viz.” is a poor choice here. Nonetheless, it should be said that viz. is not terminated with a period. Rather, viz. is an abbreviation of a Latin contraction- many people now omit the period in the spelling as they do for “ie” or “eg”.

          Back to baseball.

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        • BubbaBiscuit says:

          Wait a minute, when did people start dropping the periods in i.e.?

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        • Aaron (UK) says:

          Indeed, and if you want “see” in the Lation, then cf. is a good choice.

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    • Goat Fondler says:

      But if a team with a $200M+ payroll (like the Yankees or Dodgers) gives him $40 million a year, that’s only 20% of their payroll.

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  7. Matthew Murphy says:

    Feel like a jump from Howard’s record $10M to $15M is a bit steep, especially given the value that the arbitration process places on HRs and RBIs where Howard was superior. I think something like $12-$16-$22 for $50M over those arb years might be a little bit more realistic (and you did mention the Angels trying to downplay that in negotiations).
    I could also see Trout pushing for an opt-out like Kershaw, and maybe the Angels get a slight discount on the free agent years if they include it. At $50M for arbitration, then $35M for two FA years with an opt out, followed by three years at $40M. Angels lock in Trout for $120M from 2015-2019, then Trout has a 3/$120M player option or can hit free agency at 28.

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  8. Xeifrank says:

    Is Trout undtradeable at this point in his very brief career? Seems very difficult to put any kind of package together in return if he is worth this much. If he were playing in the state of Florida trade packages instead of extensions would be the topic. But still a chance the Angels can’t afford this with Pujols and Hamilton on the books. Just thinking out loud here.
    vr, Xei

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    • Otter says:

      This is interesting… I’ll use the Red Sox seeing they have money and an outstanding major league team and farm system and I don’t think you could get it done. My jumping off point is Pedroia, Bogaerts and Bradley. I doubt throwing in Jon Lester gets the deal done since he’s a free agent after the season.

      The Pirates might actually be the best bet: Andrew McCutchen and Cole being the framework of the deal. Probably would take another prospect or two.

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      • Bip says:

        That would be an interesting trade, especially considering how cheap McCutchen is now.

        Trout is about 3-4 WAR better than McCutchen by our estimations, but I doubt major league teams see the separation as being quite that big. McCutchen will be paid over the next 4 years about the same total amount as Trout, but he also has a team option year that corresponds with what would be Trout’s first free agent year. That option is for 14 million, and Trout is likely to make $40 million for that year.

        Plus, the Angels are pitching starved, and Cole looks like he is about to be ace, as soon as this year.

        TBH, if I’m the Pirates, and the Angels offered me Trout for just McCutchen and Cole, I say no, and without much hesitation. It might be different the Pirates were in a position to offer Trout an extension, but if they made that trade, they would likely just get the next 4 years of Trout.

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        • Otter says:

          I still think the Pirates would have to throw in more. But anyway, Pittsburgh could also move Trout in three years to the Yankees/BoSox/Dodgers for a boat load of young talent/prospects; which would give either team a whole year to get a deal hammered out before he got to free agency. Odds are the Pirates are going to have to move McCutchen in three years as it is…

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      • RC says:

        Don’t get me wrong, Trout is fantastic, but I don’t think the Red Sox even think about that deal.

        Pedroia is a 6WAR player on an extremely friendly longer term team deal. Bogaerts is a player who projects to be about a 5 WAR guy at 21. There’s a very real chance in 2 years that Bogaerts is the most valuable non-Trout player in the league.

        Bradley is basically a free 3WAR CF’er.

        I think the only way this deal could happen is if Trout signing a long term, wicked friendly extension was part of the deal, and at that point, there’s no way Anaheim trades him.

        Trout’s clearly the best player in the league, but I think it just diminishes the sox too much for them to do it.

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        • Anon21 says:

          “Bogaerts is a player who projects to be about a 5 WAR guy at 21.”

          Do you mean, “At the age of 21, he projects to be a 5 WAR guy in some future season, when he is older than 21″? Or do you mean “In 2014, his age-21 season, he projects to be worth about 5 WAR”? If the latter, no he doesn’t.

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        • Otter says:

          Pedrioa’s also entering the downside of his career and Bogaerts could also be Brandon Wood; that’s a good amount of risk over the next three years for the Angels to take on. For the Red Sox this issue becomes, as you said, that they’re are moving too many players to make the gain Trout will bring. Red Sox would have to find an entire middle infield and a pitcher if this deal some how happened, which makes Trout near untradeable to most MLB teams.

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        • FOH says:

          I’d bet on Bogaerts being a 5 WAR player next year before JBJ being a 3 WAR. Both are optimistic assumptions but, defensively, Bogaerts is ahead of JBJ as a pro. Based on what I’ve seen, anyway.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          Jesus Christ, that’s some naked homerism.

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        • Overrated Much? says:

          Pedroia is not going to give you 6 WAR year in and year out. He has only put up 6+ WAR in 2 of 8 seasons.

          He also only hits above league average in Fenway park, so its not like the Angels would really want a defense-first 2B like him.

          What projection system are you using to suggest that Bradley is 3 WAR and Bogaerts is a 5 WAR player?

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        • ALZ says:

          Pedroia has only twice topped 6 WAR. Bogaerts may be 5 WAR in the future, but it is a big leap to say he is there yet. And Bradley was worth negative WAR last year.

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        • jim says:

          “There’s a very real chance in 2 years that Bogaerts is the most valuable non-Trout player in the league. ”

          i’m going to go ahead and recommend you take the under on that

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        • B N says:

          Haha, phewwww. As a Sox fan, I HOPE these predictions come true, but I sure am not banking on it. With that said, those three plus a some prospects might be in the ballpark of what Trout would fetch. For those three alone, it probably wouldn’t get done. Pedroia is too old, Bogaerts is a bit unproven, and Bradley is entirely unproven.

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        • MrMan says:

          Wow. So Pedroia is a “6 WAR” player despite the fact he’s met that number exactly twice in his career and is on the wrong side of 40. And let’s pencil in Bogaerts as a 5 WAR today and the non-Trout best player in the league tomorrow even though he’s proven exactly zero, is 21 years old and ZIPS has him as a 3 WAR player for 2014. Finally, Bradley is today, already, a 3 WAR player despite the fact he, also, has yet to prove himself.

          Don’t get me wrong, all three are tremndous pieces to have on your team and are likely to contribute. But the highest of high-in-the-sky projects here are the epitome of blind homerism.

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        • Owen says:

          I’ll add to the chorus that this seems optimistic in terms of projections. Let’s just use averaged Fangraphs projections for the four players in the deal, excluding Lester (projections: Steamer, Oliver, Fans)
          Trout (8.6, 9.7, 8.1): 8.8
          Pedroia (4.0, 3.5, 5.8): 4.43
          Bogaerts (2.7, 3.8, 4.4): 3.63
          Bradley (1.5, 2.8, 3.1): 2.46

          Boston (10.5) > Trout (8.8)

          I’d say these are roughly on target: the Sox rookies might be overprojected, but Pedroia is also brought down by an odd 3.5 Oliver rating. I would take the over on Trout, but we have to remember that the downside risk from an injury could cost him 4 or 5 WAR, which keeps the projection down.

          If we believe Cameron that teams don’t actually pay for “concentrated WAR,” then we can just add the WAR, and see it as an overpayment by Boston. (Note: I just looked up the depth charts, based on Zips/Steamer and they see it as more or less a wash, with Boston sending 8.4 WAR and getting 8.2 back in Trout).

          Even if they did get more WAR in total, or if WAR concentration was beneficial overall, the Sox would still be trading a pretty team-friendly contract (13.5m AAV for Pedroia’s age 30-38 years, I think)for the chance to make a fair-market value extension on Trout. Also, you know, it’s Pedroia.

          If you swapped out Pedroia, you’d have to replace the immediate production with another player providing immediate value, and/or a ton of prospect talent. Let’s say Lester, who provides value right away, and Garin Cecchini and/or Henry Owens.

          Bradley, Bogaerts, Lester, Cecchini, Owens: I know the Sox say no, but do the Angels?

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        • JasonBVT says:

          FOH: you’re very clearly wrong on the defensive analysis. Bradley is a plus defensive CF right now; his bat is lacking though. Bogaerts is a fringe-average defensive SS right now, but his bat is fantastic.

          For 2014 you’re hoping for a 3.5-4 win season from Bogaerts (seriously, he’s good) and 2 wins from Bradley. In 2-3 years though it’s not a stretch to see multiple 5 win season from Bogaerts. Bradley will probably comfortably sit in the 2.5-4 win category.

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    • Bip says:

      If David Price is untradable, then Mike Trout is certainly untradable.

      I think we may have reached the high point on a market adjustment towards valuing prospects. Probably the Rays would have no problem trading Price 5 years ago, but prospect valuation has only increased since then. It seems to me that the Rays are expecting a lot for Price, more than they got for Shields, and teams are valuing their own prospects much more highly. No one thinks Price is worth their best prospects, and the Rays think he is. Something has got to budge.

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      • Iron says:

        No it doesn’t.

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        • Bip says:

          I’m not saying that the Rays will definitely trade Price before the season starts, just that the standoff between teams who have tradable major-league assets and those that have prospects will probably agree to a more realistic valuation of those prospects. Probably at some valuation higher than what the Royals put on it’s price for Shields, and lower than what the Tigers placed on what they received for Fister.

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      • B N says:

        Since when is David Price untradable? The Rays just want to extract super value out of him, or they’ll keep him. As a team in contention, why not? The reason they can’t get much more than they got for Shields was that a team badly overpaid for Shields. If they could get a little more than they got for Shields, they’d probably be getting a fair deal.

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    • jacaissie says:

      What if it was just Trout + Pujols for Xander?

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      • Art Vandelay says:

        There is absolutely no chance the Angels would make that deal.

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      • RC says:

        That’s a really tough one. Xander has a little bit more control, and a lower ceiling and floor, but there’s a good chances hes a 6-7 WAR player when all is said and done.

        Which makes him a whole lot less valuable than Trout. But Pujols is terrible, and that contract is basically -25M of value each year for the next 9 years. That basically cut’s Trout’s value in half.

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        • Paul says:

          Saying there is a good chance Xander ends up as a 6-7 WAR player is incredibly ignorant. Just like other top prospects, his team would be very happy if he develops into a 4 WAR player. 6-7 WAR is basically his very top ceiling and should not be expected. I guess my statement isn’t necessary if you are a troll.

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        • batpig says:

          I think “RC” stands for “Red Sox fan who is typically delusional and vastly overrates the chances of success for his teams prospeCts.”

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        • japem says:

          Paul – he’s not a troll; maybe he’s just overly optimistic. I wouldn’t say there’s a great chance he becomes a 6-7 win player, but it’s not like that’s unheard of. Why is it unfair to suggest that his peak may be as good as Carlos Gomez’s or Josh Donaldson’s peak? He’s a consensus top-five prospect in all of baseball, with a lot of people putting him as high as #2.

          I don’t understand your vitriol here…

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        • FOH says:

          >But Pujols is terrible

          Looking forward to the Trout comments after one down year. Damn, you people are brutal. The best bat of his era is now terrible because Pujols finally addressed an ongoing injury and math geeks have determined that 30+ ballplayers are useless, even though bats like Ortiz, Beltre and Beltran commonly disprove their theories.

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        • Felix says:

          -25M value each year? Albert isn’t a replacement level player yet…

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        • ALZ says:

          There is a much bigger chance he isn’t a 6-7 WAR player, year in and year out. Pedroia isn’t that level, 6-7 WAR puts you in the top 10 or so positional players every single year.

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        • B N says:

          Haha, this is still crazy. You can’t just predict that someone is going to be a 6-7 WAR player on an annual basis. You know who is one of those right now? Miguel Cabrera. He’s played 10 full seasons (remarkably durable, actually) and amassed 54 WAR. That’s 5.4 WAR/year.

          So you are basically projecting that Xander, who has done about nothing, will be better than an equally-or-better rated prospect who is hitting his absolute best ceiling. Not even just a little better, but 0.5-1.5 WAR better.

          Don’t get me wrong, after seeing the postseason, I am now convinced: Bogaerts is a big league player. He’s legit. He might be a 2.5-3.5 WAR player next year, which would be huge for a rookie. But that’s a far cry from a 6 WAR player anytime in the near (or even far) future.

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        • RC says:

          “-25M value each year? Albert isn’t a replacement level player yet…”

          Pujols was a .7WAR player last year. There’s a very real chance he is replacement level this year.

          Also, “good chance” doesn’t mean “Assured”. I’d say Bogaerts has a 20% chance of being a 6+ WAR player, and thats a really friggen good chance as far as these things go.

          He’s a slightly plus defensive shortstop who has kept a >10% walk rate, and projects to have prodigous power. He hits .250, and with the same power he showed in the minors, and we’re looking at .250/.330/.450, and in 650 PA, in today’s offensive environment, we’re looking at a 5.5WAR player. He hit’s .275? And we’re at 7 WAR.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Paul, several projection systems peg Bogaerts as a roughly 4 WAR player next year. While the Red Sox would not complain if that is his peak and he maintains it, their hopes for him are almost certainly substantially higher. I get the desire to balance out the excess optimism surrounding a top prospect. But, it probably is more likely Bogaerts’ best season is 6+ WAR than that he maxes out at 4.

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    • Ducky says:

      @FOH “defensively, Bogaerts is ahead of JBJ as a pro.” wrong, wrong and wrong. Bogaerts is the prospect with the higher ceiling and has more power potential but defensively Jackie Bradley Jr. is perhaps the best defensive out field prospect in the game. Bogaerts might be a shortstop, might be a third baseman. We really do not know yet. Bogaerts gets a 55 grade defensively and a 6O grade for his arm on a 20-80 scouting scale. Bradley Jr. gets a 75 on the 20-80 scouting scale and a 60 for his arm as well. Just know what you are talking about before you say it FOH.

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      • FOH says:

        Key word: potentially.

        Some players adjust faster than other, and in this case – the case between Bogaerts and JBJ – I think it obvious that B is adjusting faster. Granted that that is based on each players limited cup of coffee, but JBJ was awful while Bogaerts at 3B was damn near elite.

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  9. Ian R. says:

    The thing about Trout in arbitration is that he hasn’t done too many of the things the arbitrators like. He’s got those two second-place MVP finishes, which are nice, but he didn’t win the award. He’s led the league in runs scored twice, which I suppose matters, and in stolen bases once, which matters, but that’s about it. He doesn’t have the massive power numbers Howard had when he piled up record arbitration salaries.

    Arbitrators aren’t considering things like OPS+ or WAR or positional value or advanced defensive metrics. They don’t have the baseball chops to do it. He’ll get a big payday in arbitration, but I think we can look at Howard’s salaries as a ballpark figure, not a floor.

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    • fly eli and tony plush says:

      ROY, 1st and 8th in SB, 2nd and 3rd in BA, 2nd in MVP twice, AS twice- all of those plus next years’ stats. And general fame- he has (unlike Howard) the reputation of maybe best in baseball. Unless he fails to impress next year, he’ll just add 3rd AS, as well as another top 10 in BA, SB, runs, MVP- that will impress in arbitration.

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    • Belloc says:

      He was a 30-30 player in his rookie year, and he led the AL in stolen bases that year. He’s hit .326 and .323 in his two full seasons. He has been durable. He had 75 extra base hits last season. He led the league in walks in 2013. He nearly had 100 RBIs last season in spite of spending the majority of the time batting second or first in the line-up. Trout is not just an advanced metrics darling. He isn’t Ben Zobrist. Trout has terrific back-of-the-baseball-card stats.

      If he has another season similar to 2012 and 2013, he will set a record in salary arbitration.

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      • Ducky says:

        It won’t even be close if he puts up an MVP type season this year. I mean if I’m his agent, I bring in Pujols and Hamilton’s stats and salaries from the last couple years and just present them. Going to arbitration with Mike Trout is……a stupid for the Angels.That is if he is the same player tis year he has been the first 2 years.

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        • Plucky says:

          FA salaries are not admissable comparisons in arbitration hearings. It’s a hard rule in the CBA. Only other arbitration awards to players of equal vintages are allowed as comps. Obviously, all his other comps will be vastly inferior players and he’ll get paid more, but they have to be the reference point

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        • Mark says:

          @Plucky
          I just finished reading the CBA where it discusses Arbitration conduct sec. E10. It specifically says MLB salary comparables are admissable. In fact the arbitrator is provided a tabulated list of all salaries for the previous season

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      • B N says:

        “He has been durable.”

        While it’s certainly mandatory to be durable for your first couple of years, durability for the first two years of a position player’s career is pretty common. It’s the last two that usually are a bit trickier. ;)

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    • Frank says:

      Yeah, I think while you can pan them for being behind the times, arbitrators don’t literally live under rocks.

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    • Nathaniel Dawson says:

      How do you know that arbitrators aren’t considering things like OPS+ or WAR or positional value or advanced defensive metrics? If I’m his agent and he went to an arbitration hearing, I’d certainly bring up any evidence that points to him being an outstanding player.

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      • Nivra says:

        This. It’s no longer the late 90′s, early 2000′s. Even casual baseball fans have heard of WAR. Almost all baseball fans believe in OPS.

        To say that arbitrators are stuck in the stone age is disingenuous or condescending (to the arbitrators).

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        • Ian R. says:

          Arbitrators aren’t baseball fans, is the thing. Many of them have very limited familiarity with the sport.

          It’s true that they’re not AS ignorant as they were back in the ’80s and ’90s, but they’re still not as well-informed as even casual fans.

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        • pft says:

          Horowitz is a huge baseball fan and he handled salary arbitration for years before landing his job as chief arbitrator.

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    • MrMan says:

      “Arbitrators aren’t considering things like OPS+ or WAR or positional value or advanced defensive metrics. They don’t have the baseball chops to do it.”

      I find comments like this…..amusing. First off, you have no real idea what arbitrators today consider. Yeah, historically they seemed more old-school, but just as sabermetrics have become better understood in the MSM and by fans, I imagine arbitrators can learn just as well.

      Second, sabermetrics aren’t some indecipherable hieroglyphics. Just as the poster learned them, arbitators can too. And you can be certain the Trout team will do everything within their power to educate them on what WAR is and why front-offices pay attention to it.

      Really, the ego and cynicism of statements like the one above….and the attitude it projects is the kind of thing that makes non-SABR orietned folks dismiss the whole thing.

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  10. Grack Zeinke says:

    I doubt it’s be a 12 or 15 yr deal but the only think that makes any sense is a deal that buys out at least his first 2 or 3 FA yrs and gets to age 30 so that he can reach free agency again before he’s past his prime. It feels like an 8 yr deal makes some sense. Is a $5M annual step too simple? $5M, $10M, $15M, $20, $25M, $30M, $35M, $40M for a total of $180M.

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    • Art Vandelay says:

      I don’t think there is any way he gets less than $200M.

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      • Grack Zeinke says:

        but he’s still pre-arb. you think he’s going to get paid at FA rates already? It usually doesn’t work that way.

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        • Kogoruhn says:

          The point of the article was that if he were getting FA rates it would be closer to 9/360 than 9/260. There is no way in hell that Mike Trout signs away a FA season for less than 30MM right now.

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        • ALZ says:

          Freeman got free agent prices. His market is going to pay him big when he does reach free agency. They also didn’t hit it early enough, he is already established, and next year he will be arbitration eligible and should be looking maybe $10M. It’s not like they can give him the taste of the good life early and he gives back later.

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    • Vince says:

      That click you just heard was Mike Trout’s agent hanging up.

      Why would sell any arb year for $5m, or even $10m?

      Worse, why would he sell any FA year for $20, $25, or even $30?

      The deal you’re proposing would be the most team-friendly deal in history.

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      • Grack Zeinke says:

        that’s a gross exaggeration. Point is that if he signs an extension with the Angels it’s obviously going to be for way less than he’d get if he hits the market. Almost all extensions work that way. It’s because the player most likely has an affinity for the club that drafted and developed him and also prob doesn’t want to hamstring them from being able to construct a winning roster by cannibalizing the payroll. As a free agent, you take on the attitude of a mercenary so you don’t have any team loyalty.

        I might’ve been a little under. I could see him signing for 9/225M.

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        • ALZ says:

          But that is the only way is if he really wants to stay there. Angels have shown they can spend fa prices on Hamilton and Pujols, why should Trout take a major discount like that?

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        • LaLoosh says:

          how is it a major discount? How much would he get in his 3 Arb years if he goes year to year? Is 10M, 15M, 20M really that far off?

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        • That Guy says:

          Is it really that obvious? I think there’s a ton of value for the Angels to get the deal done now before other teams can offer him more than just the money.

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        • RC says:

          Howard got 10 Million when the league was at $4M/war. Now we’re up at almost 7.

          And Trout is a much better player than Howard.

          I think if Trout went into Arb with a $20M number, and the team went in with $10, he’d win.

          I could see something like $16M-$21M-$27M for the ARB years.

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  11. That Guy says:

    “…also setting himself up to be a premium free agent for a second time.”

    You mean, for the first time.

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  12. E says:

    What negatives would the Angels even say in arbitration?

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    • sambf says:

      Hasn’t been elected to Hall of Fame, not a war hero, no saves, no RBIs batting left handed, hasn’t caught any players stealing… Really there are lots of things not to love about Trout.

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    • 28 this year says:

      Has yet to teach Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols to not be overpaid. Has yet to cure cancer. I mean, what else is his job?

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    • TOK says:

      There’s really nothing bad to say. Their best bet would probably be to make arb comps more than 5 less than 10 years ago. Hope they can obfuscate the change in the player salary market in the last few years, and keep a judgement from setting a new record.

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  13. JayT says:

    Keep in mind that by the time Trout went to arbitration, Howard’s deal will have been seven years in the past. The arbitrators might not take WAR into account, but they will certainly take inflation in.

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  14. Z..... says:

    I’m thinking somewhere along the lines of 12 years/$400 million as a discount for the Angels. Probably more likely that he gets something that will pay him a boatload and gives him an opt out at age 30 to get another giant contract

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    • Z..... says:

      that being said, I havent read the article yet…so hopefully, I didnt just repeat something that was already said and just look totally redundant

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  15. KCDaveInLA says:

    I wonder if the Angels’ past 2 subpar years missing the playoffs will be a talking point in the Trout extension. In Howard’s case, the Phillies’ playoff runs, as well as inflated power numbers, were probably significant factors in his extension, never mind the prime years from Chase Utley and Jimmie Rollins.

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    • Richard says:

      Howard’s an example here because of his arbitration years, which happened before the Phillies’ playoff-run, not his misguided extension, which happened during.

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  16. Hurtlockertwo says:

    The Angels lost 84 games last with Trout, they can probably lose 84 without him too. (to paraphrase Branch Rickey) Seems the Angels might want to hold off giving Trout the whole farm and see how the franchise is going to do. They already owe Pujols and Hamiliton a huge amount of money, might as well try to get Trout cheap.

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  17. jg941 says:

    I don’t know if Dave keeps mentioning the “MVP” award sarcastically or not, but it’s irrelevant in valuing Mike Trout. Whether he happened to win (or not win) that particular trophy won’t play any part in the amount of money it will take to extend him. He’s clearly the best player in baseball, hands-down, so the fact that Miguel cabrera won the actual hardware doesn’t really mean anything, contractually.

    If the Angels we’re trying out their Negotiation 101 and said something dumb like “Well, your client has never won an MVP award……” I think Trout’s agent would just kinda grin and say “Anything else before we start the REAL discussion?”

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    • Art Vandelay says:

      I think the MVP thing comes into play for arbitration, not so much for an extension.

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      • Nivra says:

        I’m in this line. I totally believe that Lincecum’s multiple CY Young awards over his first two full seasons played a huge role in the salary the Giants eventually paid him, and are still paying him.

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    • Sam Seabeast says:

      I think DC was saying it would come up in arbitration, which as I understand it is true. But as DC also points out he finished second in every year he’s played so far, which would be relevant to the arbitrator. If Trout were 100% ignored by voters, the Angels would know that the arbitrator would probably grant Trout less in arbitration than he deserves, so their extension would only have to top deflated arbitration salaries.

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  18. bjsguess says:

    Those are way too aggressive.

    No way he makes $60M in 3 years of arbitration. I just don’t buy that. I also don’t believe that arbiters are enlightened enough to evaluate positional scarcity, UZR/150 and WAR. They look at awards and HR’s. I think he’ll beat Howard’s numbers but it won’t be a landslide. Howard was an absolute monster.

    And $40M for his FA years is just crazy. That would be top of the shelf pricing for him as a FA assuming that he continues to pump out 10 win seasons. Even then I don’t see a team paying 25% more than the next highest contract.

    Under Dave’s suggestion I see ALL of the risk on the Angels’ part. I see no discount from Trout for that long-term commitment. I’m thinking his a 6/$95M deal ($45M through arb) and $25M each for 2 years of FA. At that point he can opt out and become a FA at 28. If he chooses not to opt out tag on another 4 years at $29M. That bring the grand total to $210M and he’s a FA at 32.

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    • Eric R says:

      “That would be top of the shelf pricing for him as a FA assuming that he continues to pump out 10 win seasons. ”

      A 10 win player would be worth $60M+.

      “No way he makes $60M in 3 years of arbitration.”

      When I do a quick and dirty projection, I typically get somewhere very close to arbitration years on average at about half of FA value.

      So, even figure 6 years matching Kershaw’s $32.5M and about half that for the average arbitration year and you are at $243M. Given that almost any system puts him ahead of Kershaw’s projections, is $260M that insane?

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      • bjsguess says:

        It’s tricky to calculate but arbitration is all about the best comps. And the best comp right now is Ryan Howard. And the comps need to be based on things that arbiters care about. Right now, you are looking at AVG/OBP/HR/RBI’s. Throw in ROY, GG, MVP’s and you have probably 85% of the case. Playing a challenging defensive position doesn’t pay out – let alone defensive metrics.

        Take Andrus. Clearly not in the same league but the guy was coming off back to back 4+ WAR seasons. He had elite baserunning and defense and played a position that’s even more difficult than CF. He filed in 2012 (just 2 off-seasons ago) for $3.6M – the Rangers countered at $2.6M. He ended up signing an extension for ALL 3 of his arb years for a total of $14M. Andrus at $14M or Trout for $60M?

        It’s not like Trout is a slouch when it comes to things that arbiters look at, it’s just that he’s not better than Howard. Seriously – look at what they consider and then compare:

        – Howard – 313/425/659 – 104 Runs /58 HR’s / 149 RBI’s
        – Trout – 323/432/557 – 109 Runs / 27 HR’s / 97 RBI’s

        If 85% of your decision is based on the above then you’d say that Howard is clearly the superior player. Throw in bonus points for being a CF’er who can field and a guy who can run and you can make a reasonable case that Trout is at least comparable to Howard as far as the platform year is concerned. $10M for Howard – as a record – I think it’s entirely possible that he would be valued at around $13M.

        Just to be clear – I’m not suggesting that Trout is worth that. He is far more valuable than $13M. That’s just what I think an arbiter would award him.

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      • bjsguess says:

        The other point I’ll mention is that you can’t value Kershaw and Trout’s FA years the same. Kershaw was one year away while Trout is four. Steep discounts for FA years are typically awarded (Braun/Cargo/Tulo/Longoria, etc, etc). When you pay market rates THEN for FA years in the far future deals do not turn out good (see Ryan Howard).

        Put another way, if Trout were only one year from FA I would totally agree with you. He’d net at least $35M/annually for his FA years. However, we are really far away from that point in time. The risk of Trout getting hurt or regressing is far greater than the risk of inflation IMO.

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    • Paul says:

      In regards to Howard was a “monster”:

      In 2006, Howard with 58 HR produced a 162 wRC+.
      His next season he produced a 135 wRC+.

      In 2012, Trout produced a 166 wRC+.
      His next season he produced a 176 wRC+.

      I know you are saying that the arbitrators won’t care, but I have to think the most recent cases from 2013 show they are improving in that regard. Hopefully they understand Trout was more than twice as good as Howard.

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    • Anon21 says:

      “I just don’t buy that. I also don’t believe that arbiters are enlightened enough to evaluate positional scarcity”

      Well, you’re wrong. They don’t value it to the extent sabermetrics does, but they absolutely take position into account in determining players’ salaries, just like MLB teams do in free agency.

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      • Nick says:

        What exactly do you base this on? Because all the evidence I see points to them looking at BA, HR, RBIs and gold gloves/fielding percentage. Period, end of story. Show me one guy who is underrated by traditional stats that got what he deserved in arbitration.

        It’s the same reason Trout won’t have MVP awards to point to at a theoretical arbitration hearing. It’s decided by clowns.

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        • Nivra says:

          What is this evidence?

          Arbitrators are free to base their evaluation on anything, _and_ they are given a copy of one of the Bill James Handbooks.

          The team cannot out and out lie to an arbitrator. They can’t go in and say, “we don’t believe in things like defensive value, positional scarcity, baserunning value.” They may say, we think he’s not worth as much as the “WAR” metric likes to think, but they’re not going to be able to just go into arbitration and say, we only evaluate a player based on HR, BA, RBI, and gold gloves.

          The team presents their case, the player’s agent/lawyer presents his case, and the arbitrator has to make his best judgement from all the facts presented. If the team went in and just played dumb, they’d pretty much instantly lose.

          To think that arbitrators don’t understand WAR, advanced metrics, and other concepts that go into modern sabermetrics really sells the arbitrators short.

          If ESPN feels like they can present WAR to their viewers, I’m sure the arbitrator can handle a concept like WAR.

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        • Nivra says:

          That is especially so when your agent/attorney can point to the free agent market and show that teams across the league all value WAR and FA contract prices closely follow WAR production.

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        • RC says:

          “Because all the evidence I see points to them looking at BA, HR, RBIs and gold gloves/fielding percentage. Period, end of stor”

          What evidence?

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      • Nick says:

        They may take it into account in a qualitative way i.e. “this guy is the best second baseman in the game” but don’t tell me that, for example, Andrelton Simmons is going to get paid fairly in arbitration.

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        • Travis L says:

          I think the point of arbitration is that the players don’t get paid fairly…

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        • bjsguess says:

          Fairly – in regards to arbitration. Simmons paycheck will never align with his actual contribution due to bias towards hitting.

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        • Anon21 says:

          No, Simmons won’t get proper credit for his defense. But they’re not going to give a shortstop with a given batting line the same salary as a first baseman with the same batting line, because they understand that the shortstop is more valuable.

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    • Eric R says:

      How do you rate Trout now relative to A-Rod when he became a FA? He got 10/$252M; discount the first three years by 50% to estimate the contract value had he been arb1, not FA and that is 10/$214M

      So, you have Trout way behind given that there has been like 50-75% inflation in baseball salaries in the 13 seasons between…

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      • Otter says:

        Trout will be a year/few months older than A-Rod when he hit free agency in 2000. He got $25m a year. Inflation adjusted to 2013 figures, that’s about $34m a year.

        While Trout might not have the home run totals, his wRC+ and wOBA are going to be as good/better than A-Rod. He’s probably going to have better speed and stolen bases figures. The only question is if Trout lost something defensively last year or if it’s just random variance.

        Going back to inflation… while players salaries across the board have gone up, it really only wasn’t until the last 12 months that A-Rod’s $25m a season was surpassed. Part of that is because there hasn’t been a talent as young and as good as A-Rod; but Trout looks like the once in a generation player that A-Rod was. In three year’s time, using A-Rod’s contract as a base… $40m sounds about right.

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        • Travis L says:

          Love the A-Rod comparison. However, Trout is much better than A-Rod. Trout has put up 20 WAR in 2 seasons, A-Rod was at 14.5. Trout’s first 2 years, he’s been as valuable as A-Rod’s first 3 years.

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    • Garrett says:

      He’s going to make more money than Kershaw during his free agent years so anything under 30M AAV is not going to happen.

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  19. Frank says:

    I think there’s something magical about that 3 in $300,000,000. It might be a nice thing to try to sell him on now, obviously before it becomes more for less.

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  20. Slats says:

    Would Mike Trout spitting into team mates’ mouths be considered Perfmorance Enhancing?

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  21. bdhumbert says:

    I guess I can go either way on this…

    Part of me sees a great player in waiting – way ahead of everyone in WAR for 20/21 year and should only get better as he moves towards his mid 20s. I could make the case for a $500 Million contract for 12-13 years with a creative option for 2-3 more years that might vest based on career stats to certain points along the way. That might take the total to 18 years and $650 M…

    But I also see some cautionary tales – two of them share the same last name – so if I am the Angels I need one more year of 8+ WAR to even think about coming close to the above. And I want to see a bit more power – or at least growth in power – chicks, fans and arbitrators dig the long ball…

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    • Travis L says:

      Who are the cautionary tales?

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      • Nivra says:

        The Upton Bros, Inc.

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      • bdhumbert says:

        Uptons – good players – early success. Not bad players now but at least in the case of BJ an awful contract for the team. But if you extrapolated growth you would have been thinking these guys would be solid 3+ WAR players – with Justin maybe more like 5+. But they both have seen K% increases that are scary – Justin once penciled in for a minimum of 20 steals stole 8 last year – and BJ is entering year 29 and Justin year 26 – so it looks like they are who they say they are – one nice player and one Jose Tabatha sort of player who strikes out a ton.

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        • RC says:

          The Uptons are a good example why you have to be cautious with Trout. He’s better than they are, but the whole SABR world loved the two of them.

          Bj put up a 5WAR season at 22, another at 23, and then was a 3 WAR player the next couple of years, and a is a replacement level mess now.

          Justin put up a 4 WAR season at 22 and a 6 WAR season at 24, and everyone assumed he was going to keep getting better. He’s almost 27 now, and is a 3 WAR player.

          Now, Trout could get better, but there are enough players that age like the Uptons that we have to be cautious, and not just assume hes going to get better. There’s a very real posibility that he gets worse. That the defense declines faster than the his bat improves.

          If hes fully developed as a hitter, and adds some weight to hit a couple more dingers, and suddenly isn’t an elite defender anymore, he’s still a very valuable player, but hes nowhere near a 10WAR guy.

          Justin Upton very quickly went from an average corner outfielder to a -15/150 guy. Trout’s already a big guy, but who knows.

          He’s fast and defends well, and those sort of guys age well, but we’re kind of in uncharted territory here.

          If you give Trout that massive deal, and hes a 6WAR player going forward, are you happy with it?

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  22. hildebeast21 says:

    I’d be worried about a hard salary cap if I were young players. every other sport has one now (even soccer is going to soon I believe). I’d take as many years as possible.

    I’d love to see him do a 13-year, $403million contract that takes him through to his age 35 season. I doubt it, but it’d be awesome to see.

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  23. Nick says:

    “This guy’s never driven in 100 runs, he’s never hit more than 30 homers, how is he worth 300 million dollars?!”

    Get ready for it, that’s all I’m saying.

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  24. ivdown says:

    I did some posturing on this a couple of months ago, and here is what I came up with:

    8 year extension starting in 2015:
    The arbitration record for a first year case is 10 million from Ryan Howard, a guy who won an MVP in his second season. What I’m not sure of, in the case of Trout, is if he signs an extension, would he need to eclipse that number or come close to it? Based on the time since Howard made his case, I think you’d have to beat the original 10 million, and give him a couple million more.

    2015: 12 million

    The record for second year arbitration is Miguel Cabrera at 11.3 million.

    Here you could probably go up to 14 or 15 million, so he again beats the arbitration record, but gets a slight raise.

    2016: 15 million

    As for his last “cost controlled” year, the record is currently Prince Fielder with an arbitration figure of 15.5. So because of this, another raise is in order, and You could go anywhere from 20-22 million here I feel like.

    2017: 21 million

    After this are 5 free agent years, where I think you can do just one flat figure, the number I settled on is a somewhat random number, but also a very high figure.

    2018: 35 million
    2019: 35 million
    2020: 35 million
    2021: 35 million
    2022: 35 million

    This would bring his grand total extension to: 223 over 8 years, or an average of 27.875 million a year.

    This contract would bring him to the age 31, where as we have seen, star players are still getting mega contracts, and he could get another gigantic pay day.

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  25. Miguel Cabrera says:

    Can we get an article about me for once?

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    • Pumpsie Green says:

      You’ve already got a massive contract, mvp awards, an adoring fan base, and tons of publicity. Mike Trout is still a secret to a good many casual sports fans.

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    • bdhumbert says:

      5 years ago I got into a long debate with one of the saber guys on you – I thought that a career was possible that got into the top 10 of all-time range. Nothing since has made me think differently.

      The move to first base will help with making age 41 and 42 seasons WAR enhancing….

      It will be a reach to get to my prediction – but top 25 is well within reach…

      Pretty awesome career in any case!

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    • Rennius says:

      Sure:

      Fat Steroid User Has Great but Overvalued Year

      Or was that one about Bartolo Colon?

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  26. Pumpsie Green says:

    An aav of $50-60 isn’t out of the question if Trout puts his stamp on MLB in the next few years. MLB needs a new marquee guy but it seems they aren’t quite ready to trust Trout to be that guy, no matter how much we love him. Maybe if his team is playoff-relevant and gets the attention of advertisers craving October exposure?

    Anyway, I don’t get the sense this will be a 9-year deal. It may be, but I’d think a 6-year with options, maybe Tanaka-esque?. Trout’s camp will strive to make that the comparable, I’m sure, rather than Howards. The Angels have most of the high cards, though – interesting to see how they want to play them.

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  27. Spa City says:

    10 years $300 million. If anybody is worth that kind of deal, it’s Trout.

    I wonder if they could package Trout with Hamilton and Pujols to essentially hit the reset button and shed those terrible contracts. Perhaps the Mariners would consider a deal for Brad Miller and Mike Zunino. The fan base would go nuts, but those contracts are really awful.

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  28. WAR and FIP says:

    One thing we can all cheer for, is the Mike Trout bidding war. The bidding itself will be world war 3. 20years/ 1 billion

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  29. KS says:

    I know Trout is only 22 now, but I still find it very hard to believe he’s going to average 9 WAR per season for the next 9 years.

    On the other hand, if a 31-year-old Robinson Cano can get 24×10, $300M for 9 doesn’t seem unreachable for Trout.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B N says:

      He’ll probably be worth it, assuming inflation goes as it is. With that said, the smart money is to wait into his middle arb years and see if he gets a scare/injured/bad season. After that, you could extend him as a vote of confidence for maybe 6yr and 200m. He’s hurt and feeling risk-averse, you’re taking a little extra risk for a higher expected value. Plus, if he plays well, he’d finish the contract young enough for another big payday. Everybody happy.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. omar207 says:

    20 years, $800 million

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    • insertusernamehere says:

      Keep risk in mind. Also, keep in mind the fact that Mike Trout will probably not play anywhere remotely close to 10 WAR when he’s in his forties.

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  31. AB says:

    I hadn’t realized that Kershaw’s contract was getting him $33 mill per year. I believe that’s the first time a player has gotten more for a single season than Michael Jordan got in 1996-97 and 1997-98. Only took 17 years to surpass.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Alan says:

    I would guess that Kershaw’s risk as a pitcher is kind of balanced by the fact that during the playoffs he is almost as valuable to a team as Trout if he starts all of games 1, 4, and 7. I think right now even Trout can’t immediately destroy the new AAV record by a 20 mil figure, and that he would probably “settle” for 40-45 mil per free agent years if it was right now and he just wanted guaranteed financial freedom for a few generations.

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  33. MrKnowNothing says:

    You write the following for both years and dollars: 8 but you turn it on it’s side.

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  34. RonnyRocket says:

    50 years $1 billion

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  35. pft says:

    I don’t know why we think 9-10 years is a cap on years for a 22 yo. I think the Angels go 15 years at 400 million. He is young enough to be pretty insurable for the 1st half of the deal. Trout might want to slip an opt-out in there but the Angels should play hardball on that.

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    • Erik says:

      I don’t think a deal that long is in the best interest of either party.

      Teams need to give players something to play for. If a deal that long is made, those back end years won’t be worth much and Trout will still have an opt out clause around year 8.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • rustydude says:

      Dave is speculating that he could get 10/$300 mill, so 15/$400 mill would have the Angels tacking on 5 years at the “discounted” rate of $20 mill/yr. I don’t think that’s gonna happen. 12 years ago ARod set the trend for long huge contracts, i.e. 9, 10, 11 years long. Today’s trend for young players seems to be shorter contracts that even include opt outs. For the Angels to keep Mike as an Angel-forever, they’re going to have to go through these painful contract extension exercises 2 or 3 times.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • pft says:

        Trout is 3 years younger than Arod was when he signed his 10 year deal, all of them free agent years. A 15 year deal is only 11 free agent years.

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  36. Mevs says:

    Dave, I’ve been waiting for one of the FG crew to do this same post on Bryce Harper for about a year and a half now.

    Any commenters want to speculate what happens with Harper when the time comes?

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    • pft says:

      Maybe 50% of what Trout gets?

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      • diamondhoggers says:

        Just wondering if the Nats have a shot to re-sign Harper.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • pft says:

          Harper really has not had a great enough year to capitalize on. He has to be hoping for better numbers before even considering an extension. The Nats of course have to be wondering how good he really is and any extension offer at this point is probably on the low side.

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  37. Frank says:

    >Ever since he broke into the big leagues and almost immediately established himself as the best player in baseball, people have wondered aloud about what kind of deal he could command.

    Trout actually broke into the big leagues in 2011 and played pretty mediocre. It’s important too because he already has over 2 years of service time. Some people forget about 2011 and think he’s future super 2 with 5 years remaining of team control when he only has 4.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric R says:

      In 2011 he had 0.7 fWAR in 135 PA, which is 3.1 per 600PA [same for rWAR]… that is more what I’d call “above average” than “pretty mediocre”.

      Not to mention that he was 19 and his offense was heavily weighted down by a terrible BABIP…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. KG says:

    If the Angels continue to be a playoff nonfactor, how does that impact the cost of a Mike Trout extension? If they don’t sniff the playoffs, and Trout’s competitiveness outweighs any loyalty to the team, but does not outweigh his desire to earn money, do they have to pay even more to keep him than they might if they’re regularly contending for the playoffs?

    Teams like the Royals have had to overpay free agents (GIL MECHE SYNDROME) just to get them to consider signing with them- the Angel’s relatively recent success probably keeps them from totally falling into a pit, but with those albatross contracts, and if all Trout ever knows with the Angels is losing, how big a role does that play? Furthermore, if by paying him a huge amount they are limiting their ability to surround him with higher caliber talent, is there a way to quantify how much more they might have to give him to lock him up to be a player on a perennial loser?

    Does anyone take more money, and resign themselves to playing on bad teams their entire career?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. Z..... says:

    I’m posting this b/c it was pretty funny, and I thought some people here would especially find it amusing…Unfortunately, this is the type of stuff that regularly happens when dealing with Marlins “fans,” but not all of us are this dumb…I’m obviously referring to the comment section where the subject of Mike Trout came up…http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mia/competition-wide-open-for-spots-in-marlins-rotation?ymd=20140212&content_id=67700496&vkey=news_mia

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  40. Johnston says:

    After the Pujols fiasco it’s an amazing act of faith on the Angel’s part to try to get this deal done, given that if anything happens to Trout (injury, talent drop, etcetera), then the Angels could wind up with the two single biggest albatross contracts in the MLB.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pft says:

      If you don’t take risks you lose. Pujol was a dumb deal since he was 32 and there were some questions about his age, and perhaps prior PED use.

      At least they know Trout, or should know him pretty good. He is also young enough and healthy enough to make his contract insurable.

      I would give him 15 years for 400 million and backload it. Inflation should knock off a big chunk down the end of the road, and Pujols deal will be off the books at the latter half of the deal

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • RC says:

        The team that just won the world series only has one player signed past 2016, and at a huge bargain.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • pft says:

          The Dodgers bailed them out. They still have a payroll right at the LT threshold. See how they do when their 38 yo DH shows his age and JBJ shows he can’t hold a candle to Ellsbury.

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  41. OpenThoughts says:

    I would not bet on Trout continuing to put up 10 WAR every season.

    He might be the best player in history, but I would take the under.

    Still if you gave him $35m per free agent year it probably would be a discount.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  42. pft says:

    Arod got a free agent deal at age 24 worth 10/252 in 2000. That would be about 10/500 in todays dollars given salary inflation has doubled salaries

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  43. jiveballer says:

    Judging from the Freeman deal, my turds/wall guess is 12yr/$400M with a player opt-out after year 9.

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  44. DetroitSportsDad says:

    So would the Tigers have to give Cabrera 12/$600M then?

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  45. elixxior says:

    I would go 30M/year for 3 years.

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  46. doinkdoink says:

    Probably like a few sheets of paper

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  47. Brian says:

    Arte Moreno needs to offer Trout a 15 year contract. I’m not sure on the amount per year. Give him the option to get out of it after five years or so which they could use to make the contract better if they need to. If you want to be a big market team there’s no way you ever let a player like Trout get to free agency.

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  48. Valuearb says:

    I think the long deals proposed are too long and risky for the Angels. The highest value utility in a long term deal for Mike Trout comes at the beginning. This year he will make $500k again, if he gets hurting the next three years he ain’t making $60M in arbitration awards, and might not even get a mega free agent deal if the injury is serious enough.

    No matter how awesome Mike Trout is, and he’s pretty damn awesome, he has injury/accident and even decline risk, especially after he gets the security of a huge deal. He could gain too much weight, run into too many fences, run afoul of league drug testing, get in car accident, shot by a jealous boyfriend. Individually these are all tiny risks, but combined together they are significant.

    The win-win is to relief him of this risk without the team taking on too much either, and without spending too much. The cheapest free agent years to buy should be the first ones, they should get progressively more expensive as they approach and pass his age 30 season, because by agreeing to any deal that locks him up into his thirties diminishes his ability to sign a bigger one the deeper it goes.

    A deal that ends after his age 27 season gives the Angels another two years of his service and cost certainty should do the trick. It affords him the best opportunity to break the bank as a free agent, while giving him immediate financial security. I’d think a $120m deal starting immediately would do the trick. $15m a year for next 4 years replacing his final minimum wage year and three Arb years. That guarantees and front loads (by $20m the first two years alone) his likely arbitration awards, and all he has to give up is tacking on two more years at $30m each. If he will do another year at $30m great.

    I just don’t see him taking any deal that makes him a 30 year old free agent, it’s missing the sweet spot of his highest value deal. A-Rod’s first deal wasn’t a record breaker just because of his tremendous performance, but also because he was 27 years old.

    Mike Trout would very foolish to sign any deal that takes him beyond his age 29 season, The extra value from those years has a low marginal utility to him and is likely to be dwarfed by the value lost by delaying his first free agency deal. If he was offered a choice between 9/$260m and 7/$200m, the 7 year deal wins easily because he is likely to get a longer deal at a higher AAV as a 28 year old free agent than a 30 year old one, and both at a higher AAV to whatever deal he signs today. He can probably get a 10/$400m at age 28, but only a 8/$300m if he waited till age 30, given his entering his decline years.

    And free agency sooner also has a very big non monetary value, it allows him to pick where he’s going to play, and that likely has a greater impact in his happiness than the marginal value of guaranteeing another $65m once you already have over $100m and are very likely to make hundreds of millions more wherever you play.

    It’s pretty clear he should lock down a big pile of money now for security’s sake (even $100M is a huge upgrade on the $5m or so he’s made to date), while postponing his free agency as little as possible.

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    • pft says:

      Pretty sure Arod was only 24 in his last season before his FA deal. His deal would be something like 10/500 today.

      You are right that the Angels should want to lock up all of his prime years, and that’s why I propose 15 years. Trouts is not going to give up all his prime years without tacking on some non-prime years.

      Longer deals also keep the AAV lower, and salary inflation reduces the nominal value of the deal at the end

      Insurance should mitigate much of the risk of an injury in the early part of his deal.

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      • pft says:

        From Trouts view, all of the things you say might go wrong are reasons he would want an extension now. Waiting until his big pay day as a free agent at age 26 means risking never getting that pay day. I suspect a 15/400 would be hard to turn down, even 10/300 would. The Angels can play hardball here and see how he handles his 80K check each month in 2014 knowing he could have locked up 300-400 million. How many of those millions do you think he could spend?

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      • ValueArb says:

        Insurance is no placebo, it’s going to be hugely expensive if it’s even available. It is unlikely the Angels could insure any significant part (more than 20%) of a 15 year Trout deal. The insurer is at a huge informational deficit, the Angels know Trout far better, and so the insurer would either refuse long tailed risk or demand a massively steep premium to take it. They might insure the first 5 years of the deal against injury risk, but that doesn’t mean they’ll cover years after that for a career ender in the first 5.

        Think about it from the perspective of the insurer. Why would you ever do a deal that is likely to lose money? Why would you take massive risk to net a small premium? My guess is for any significant coverage the insurance premium would approach $40M. Why would the Angels pay that? It seems unlikely that there is a mutually attractive insurance contract that can be reached for such a massive long term deal. Insurance isn’t the solution for every problem, it has to work for both parties.

        You are right about A-Rod being a free agent before his age 25 season. But as far as Trout demanding decline years to give up prime years, that’s a bad strategy for him that works against his best interest. His opportunity to get his highest value free agent deal is in his age 26-29 seasons. By selling his age 26 or 27 or 28 seasons he’s not closing a window, he can still get a similar long term deal.

        And long term deals have to have substantial discounts in AAV or they aren’t compensating for risk.

        Signing a 15 year deal for $400M is a terrible deal for the Angels because of the enormous long tailed risk they have to take. He has career ender in year 6 and they’ve got big part of their payroll as a sunk cost for a decade. 15 years $300M would probably be a reasonable deal for them, but terrible for Trout.

        There is no guarantee salary inflation will continue for the duration of the deal either, MLB is a private business that depends on massive government subsidies, and it’s increasing revenues depend on a population that continuously increases the percentage of their income spent on sports entertainment. If we enter a severe recession where the average spending on sports entertainment actually falls, and/or there is an attack on the stadium subsidy system, a long term contract like that could turn into a boat anchor very quickly.

        But right now Trout is guaranteed zero more dollars. If he has a horrific injury this season he could end his career making $5M, or $30M as a journeyman. He’d love to lock down his arb years for $60m or so, he gets a huge increase in financial security giving up zero in terms of future free agency value. But that makes zero sense for the Angels, who can just pay him year to year for a similar cost without taking on any risk.

        So the best option is to sell a couple prime years at a reasonable discount ($25M-$30M/year) to make it a good deal for the Angels and lock down his first $100M, and then get his $30M a year long term deal in free agency. He loses almost NOTHING by selling a couple of prime years since it’s unlikely he’s getting much more on an AAV on a long term deal as a free agent. If he signs a 10 year $300M deal at age 28 after giving the Angels two $25M years, he loses a nominal $10M, but makes that up easily by front loading his Arb awards and eliminating 4 years of arbitration period injury risk.

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  49. Dane says:

    I think the concept of trading Trout is one of those things where the receiving team is more likely to take on bloat (a la Pujols’ remaining years on his contract) than have to give up a boatload in talent. I could see a team like the Tigers trading Cabrera and two top prospect minor leaguers for Trout and Pujols. Yes, it would suck for Trout, but it would benefit both the Angels and Tigers.

    Angels would shave the back-end of the Pujols deal (2016-2021; $165mm), but likely be forced to accept back the stupid $10mm personal services contract after 2021, unless Pujols agrees to waive that as a condition of the trade. He would gain from the trade, by going to a team much more likely to contend for the WS.

    Tigers would lose Cabrera, but gain Trout through at least 2018.

    Probable WAR values:
    Cabrera (2014-2015): 15
    Trout (2014-2017): 34
    Pujols (2014-2015): 4
    Pujols (2016-2017): 0
    Pujols (2018-2021): -12

    Combined value of Pujols/Trout works to 38 wins over the next four seasons.
    Now, the data to conclude cost per win is difficult to guess at, since no one seems to be going to arbitration these days. Using Chris Davis as a starting point, the Orioles paid him $10.3mm for 2014 based upon 6.3 WAR in 2013. Now, if we assume Trout will start at $1.7mm per win for his 2015 arbitration hearing, that puts his arbitration number in the $16mm range. Added to Pujols’ $24mm for 2015, and the team taking Pujols/Trout would be paying $25mm for 13 wins in 2014, $45mm for 10 wins in 2015, $51mm for 8 wins in 2016 and $57mm for 7 wins in 2017. The Angels, should they accept the trade of Cabrera from the Tigers would pay Cabrera $22mm for 7+ wins in each of 2014-2015.

    On paper, that doesn’t seem bad at all for the Angels, and the Tigers would have deep enough pockets to buyout Trout’s arbitration years and give him a worthwhile contract.

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  50. derekcarstairs says:

    Young players opt for long-term deals prior to hitting free agency for “financial security”. Trout will get a good bit of financial security in his first arbitration year alone.

    If Trout is confident in his own ability and is a bit of a gambler and a capitalist, he’ll become a free agent at age 26 and sign a record-smashing 10-year deal.

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