I’m a day late in writing this. Not because I needed extra time to formulate my yelling. Because I’m okay with this.
Yesterday morning, alerts came through that the Los Angeles Angels
of Anaheim of California of the United States of America of North America and Mike Trout were finalizing a 12 year/$430 million contract extension*.
*Practically breaking any previous record that was set.
I’ve always liked Trout. He’s very good at the baseball. He doesn’t have any scandals. He likes the weather. And he’s obsessed with Philly.
If you look at his Baseball Reference page, the chart that displays his numbers over the last eight years of his career, there’s a lot of bold and italics, signifying that he led the league or all leagues in a particular stat in that year. His WAR is also very good; this stat uses a bunch of math to determine what a player’s value is to his team.
According to FanGraphs, a “good player” has a WAR of 3-4, while an “MVP” has a 6+ WAR. Trout has never had a WAR lower than 6; his WAR in 2016 was 10.5 and his WAR last year was 10.2. Meanwhile Bryce Harper‘s WAR has been all over the place: 5.2 in his first season in 2012, a 1.1 in 2014, a 10.0 in 2015, and then nothing over 5 since then. He had a 1.3 WAR last year. That screams “I need a $330 million contract!”
Now I know that this is only one stat, but it’s meant to show a player’s value. Here are some other stats if you’re not on the WAR bandwagon:
Sam Miller, ESPN
Mike Trout will break records in an Angels uniform. He has the eighth-most home runs through age-26 in history, almost 100 more than Barry Bonds had and 21 more than Hank Aaron had. He has the 23rd-most hits, almost 300 more than Pete Rose had. He has the ninth-most runs, 61 more than career record-holder Rickey Henderson had.
Now when it comes to the money—$430 million over 12 years is about $36 million a season—I can yell all I want about it. I guess I was naive to think that teams couldn’t afford to pay players that much, because it’s not done all that often. Because that’s a huge investment for a team to make in just one player:
Sam Miller, ESPN
Owners don’t want to pay dramatically more for a player than anybody else is getting, because it looks reckless and might cause resentment among other owners. Players might not even want to get such a headline contract, because it puts a target on them among fans, many of whom have traditionally been unkind to players making too much money to play “a kids’ game.” So, instead, we see the best players ask for long contracts. That’s how you end up with veteran stars who are underpaid during their peaks but overpaid at the back end of their contracts.
The Angels are putting a lot of faith into Trout that he will be just as good 12 years from now. Granted, he’ll be in his mid-thirties by that time, but a lot can change over 12 years. Other players on that team are going to come and go. It’s great that LA has the talent in Trout, don’t get me wrong, but wouldn’t you rather use that money and spread it out over some very good players? I have no problem with four or five year contracts for players who can get you the wins you need.
Trout has spent his entire career with the Angels—the last eight years—and the team has only made the playoffs one time. I swear I heard people say it was three times, but I’m not seeing anything that supports that. The last three seasons, the Angels have finished at least 21 games back in the AL West.
For all we know, the Angels could have a totally awesome farm system or the GM has something up his sleeve and is going to make some great trades. Looking at their payroll, they have much less of a dropoff than the San Diego Padres do. Trout is their top paid player—$34.1 million (he’ll see a pay raise after next season)—followed by Albert Pujols at $28 million for 2019. Then Justin Upton in third at $18 million.
So I guess I have the same question here as I did with Harper and Machado: what does one do with all of that money? Even after taxes, that’s a lot of money. I’d assume these guys have financial people to help and diversify their assets. Because I wouldn’t just want millions hanging around, granted I’ll probably never even see the league minimum in my life.
I’d like to make three other points:
- Brad Ausmus is the Angels’ manager, and he’s my second favorite person after Gabe Kapler.
- Trout’s contract just kind of blew over. Everyone was like, “Oh, yeah that makes sense” and went about their lives. When Harper signed, I feel like everyone was making fun of it for hours after the alerts came in.
- Rob Manfred needs to get his panties out of a twist and stop complaining that Trout isn’t “marketing” himself. Just let the guy play baseball! He hasn’t gotten in any trouble, and guess what, he’s a good player!
What would you do with $36 million, which is what Trout will make in a season?