Mike Trout finally landed the record-setting deal everyone has been breathlessly awaiting Wednesday morning, assuring he will remain property of the Los Angeles Angels through 2020.
He signed a one-year, $1 million contract.
OK, sure, so maybe it's $149 million and five years light of the figure that has been widely bandied about for the game's finest outfielder.
The message was clear, and powerful.
The Angels, by giving Trout the most lucrative contract in baseball history for a player not eligible for arbitration, set themselves up for peaceful negotiations for the real contract that awaits.
"It makes you feel good inside,'' Trout told reporters Wednesday at their camp. "It makes you feel like they want you here. It means a lot.''
MAGIC MARK: Trout first pre-arbitration millionaire
The Angels, by playing nice with their All-Star center fielder, will now take care of their next order of business.
The Angels are negotiating a six-year contract extension with Trout, paying him at least $140 million through 2020, according to a person directly involved with the negotiations. He spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.
Sure, it may sound light, particularly after all of the talk that Trout will break Alex Rodriguez's record 10-year, $275 million deal.
If he stays healthy, one day Trout indeed will become the game's highest-paid player.
It's just not happening now.
There's no need for it to happen now.
Trout remains four years away from free agency, so why pay him like an unrestricted free agent on the open market? Angels owner Arte Moreno isn't going to just make a hand-out when there's no need.
This is why the Angels renewed Trout's contract for just $510,000 last season, despite his runner-up finish in the 2012 American League MVP race.
It's also why his agent, Craig Landis, went ballistic, while knowing he had no recourse.
The Angels could have done the same thing again this year after another historic performance and MVP runner-up award. Trout knows they could have paid him $550,000, which would have been in ine with their policy not to double the contract of a player not yet eligible for arbitration.
Yet, if you're about to make Trout a business partner through 2020, making him the second highest-paid player in franchise history, why save a couple hundred thousand bucks now?
"There are performances that force you to break a rule," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters in camp. "What Trout did for two consecutive years forced us to break our own rule. There is nothing in the game that's hard and fast. We felt like his performance certainly merited treating him different than the others."
Really, this six-year deal that should be finalized and announced in the next five weeks, is perfect.
It provides Trout with lifetime security. It gives him a minimum $23.3 million annual average salary. And it still permits him to hit the free-agent market at the age of 29 and make a real killing.
For the Angels, they gain cost certainty. They lock up Trout's services for an extra three years. And they don't have to watch him play for his hometown New York Yankees until 2021.
It's a deal that not only is fair to both sides, but also makes financial sense, according to seven agents and club executives contacted Wednesday by USA TODAY Sports. They spoke on condition of anonymity because Trout is not their client or player.
Just because he's not getting A-Rod money now, doesn't mean this a Paul Goldschmidt (five years, $32 million) or Andrelton Simmons (seven years, $58 million) club-friendly steal.
The Angels barely are getting a discount in this proposed deal, according to agents and club executives not involved in the negotiations.
Sure, they acknowledge what Trout has accomplished in his first two years is historic, but the reality is that he's the Tim Lincecum of position players.
Lincecum won back-to-back Cy Young awards for the San Francisco Giants before his first year of arbitration, and signed a two-year, $23 million contract.
Philadelphia Phillies Ryan Howard, who already had won an MVP award before his first year of arbitration, earned the highest award in history at $10 million in 2008. He had produced 80 homers and 212 RBI his first two full seasons, scoring 156 runs with a 1.029 OPS. Trout hit 57 homers with 180 RBI, scoring 238 runs with a .976 OPS.
The only way Trout would receive more than $12 million in arbitration next winter, according to one prominent agent, is if he won the American League MVP award this year. If Trout decided to go year-to-year in the arbitration process, in a survey of seven agents and baseball executives, this would be his salary breakdown:
- 2015 (salary arbitration): $10 million to $15 million.
- 2016 (Salary arbitration): $16 million to $20 million.
- 2017 (salary arbitration): $21 million to $25 million.
He would hit the free-agent market after the 2017 season, and likely receive a deal worth $30 million to $35 million a season.
Ok, so maybe I went to Arizona State University and not M.I.T., but I can still operate a calculator. Trout is worth between $137 million to $165 million over the next six years, and this doesn't include any discounts for financial security.
Trout can sit down for his appetizer now, and dig into the main course in six years. He'll still be a free agent at the age of 29, and at the startling rate of these local TV deals, may get a deal closer to $400 million than $300 million.
The Angels will get to keep their star attraction for the next six seasons, without breaking into a cold sweat the next time Trout crashes into the outfield fence.
Yes sir, Wednesday was the best $1 million the Angels ever spent.
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