Trout gets ’14 compensation; long-term deal next
The Angels agreed to terms on an unprecedented one-year, $1 million contract for 2014 with 22-year-old center fielder Mike Trout on Wednesday, setting a good tone for ongoing conversations regarding a long-term contract.
The $1 million compensation is a record for players with more than two years and less than three years of service time. The previous high was $900,000, attained by Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (2007) and then-Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (‘03).
“It’s a landmark,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “It’s fitting. I think Mike’s earned that, and we’re glad to provide that for him. He’s certainly been an extraordinary player, and we have no doubt that he’ll go continue to be that player.”
For zero-to-three service-time players – Trout has exactly 2.07 years of service time – clubs can determine whatever salary they want, as long as it’s at least the 2014 minimum of $500,000. The Angels don’t want the average annual value of a potential Trout extension to count towards their Competitive Balance Tax payroll until 2015, otherwise they would blow past the luxury-tax threshold. So they needed to get Trout compensated for 2014 first.
Agreeing to terms on his present-year salary is essentially a green light to sign for the 22-year-old sensation to sign an extension.
A recent report from Yahoo! Sports said the Angels and Trout’s representatives were working on a six-year, $150 million contract, but that report centered on a deal that would begin to pay Trout in 2014 and nothing is imminent just yet, a source told MLB.com.
Dipoto declined comment, as usual, when asked how close the two sides are to a long-term contract. Asked if the compensation would’ve been the same if the Angels weren’t trying to sign him to a long-term deal, Dipoto said, “Absolutely.”
Last spring, the Angels made headlines by giving Trout only a $20,000 increase from his Rookie of the Year season in 2012, a contract totaling only $510,000. Dipoto said then that the Angels were simply sticking to their system, but Trout’s agent, Craig Landis, responded with an angry statement in which he said the compensation was “not the result of a negotiated compromise” and that it “falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract.”
This time around, Trout’s representative “agreed” on the salary, instead of merely a “renewal,” a good sign that both sides are on the same page.
Asked why they made an exception this year, Dipoto said: “Honestly, because I think we felt like his performance was exceptional. There are players that force you to break a rule, and what Trout just did for two consecutive years forced us to break our own rule. There’s nothing in the game that’s hard-and-fast. We felt like his performance certainly merited treated him differently than the others.”
Trout doesn’t even turn 23 until Aug. 7, and already he’s widely considered the best all-around player in the game. He’s finished second to Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera for the American League Most Valuable Player Award each of the last two years and was the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year in 2012. Over the last two years, he’s ranked second in the Majors in batting average (.324), second in OPS (.976), 14th in homers (57), second in steals (82) and easily first in Wins Above Replacement, with a cumulative score of 20.4 as calculated by FanGraphs.com.
Next up, the Angels hope to buy out some of Trout’s free-agent years.