Angels sign Trout through 2020 for $144.5M
Center fielder's deal is highest annually for player with two years of service
ANAHEIM -- At just 22 years old, Mike Trout is widely considered the best all-around player in the game. Even President Obama, when looking to illustrate the numerous virtues of the farm bill, compared it to Trout. And the Angels made certain that he'll continue to amaze the fans at the Big A for a while.
On Friday, the Angels locked up the superstar center fielder through 2020, signing Trout to a six-year contract extension that sources say is worth $144.5 million. The deal, which doesn't kick in until the start of the 2015 season, buys out three arbitration years and three free-agent years. It includes a full no-trade clause, but no additional option years, making Trout a free agent again at age 29.
The year-by-year breakdown isn't known yet, but a source said Friday night that the contract will ensure that Trout is the highest-paid player in the game relative to service time at every juncture.
The Angels formally announced the deal via a news conference at Angel Stadium on Saturday, prior to the last Freeway Series game against the Dodgers and as part of "Fiesta Angels."
"We've been working on it for a while, and everybody handled it very professionally," Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a phone conversation.
"I look at the franchise and what's best for the franchise. You have a very respectful young man, who's very bright, very family-oriented -- that was a very important thing, how respectful he is to his family and to the organization."
Trout established himself as the best all-around player in baseball the last two seasons, posting a .324/.416/.560 slash line with 57 homers, 238 runs scored, 82 stolen bases and a Major League-best 20.4 Wins Above Replacement, as calculated by FanGraphs.com.
In 2012 and '13, Trout finished second in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting to Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who just signed an eight-year, $248 million extension of his own.
The Angels and Trout agreed on a $1 million contract for 2014 in late February, the highest ever for a pre-arbitration player, but have basically been negotiating an extension since January.
The deal gives the Angels some cost certainty and the ability to hold on to the most popular player in baseball a little longer than promised. For Trout, it grants plenty of financial security early in his career while maintaining the ability to enter the open market at a prime age.
Asked if he would've preferred to lock up more of Trout's free-agent years, Moreno said: "I would say yes. We obviously love the player. But I would say that we came to a happy medium on which direction we were going."
Trout becomes the third player on the Angels with an average annual value of at least $24 million, joining first baseman Albert Pujols (10-year, $240 million deal in December 2011) and left fielder Josh Hamilton (five-year, $125 million deal in December 2012).
The AAV, close to $24.1 million, ranks 10th all-time for multiyear deals and is the highest signed by a player with two years of service time, topping the nine-year, $167 million extension ($18.56 million AAV) signed by Giants catcher Buster Posey last March.
"He's one of my good friends, first and foremost, and a terrific ballplayer," Angels starter Garrett Richards said. "You can't say enough good things about him. We've come up together in the Minor Leagues. ... I've probably seen more Mike Trout at-bats than anybody. He's come a long ways, and he deserves everything."
The deal was finalized three days before Opening Day, but Moreno indicated that Monday's home opener against the Mariners wasn't necessarily a deadline.
"I don't think it was a situation where anybody was in a hurry about it," he said. "We're trying to accomplish something long term, and so we didn't want to be in a situation where you're pressing anybody to do something."
The Angels wanted to compensate Trout for this season before agreeing to an extension in order to avoid blowing past the luxury-tax threshold.
Now, without counting arbitration-eligible and pre-arbitration players, the Angels currently have a little over $133 million tied to their Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) payroll for 2015, nearly $120 million for '16 and a little more than $73 million for '17 (with only Pujols, Hamilton and Trout in the books by then).
The CBT payroll is calculated as the AAV of all 40-man roster contracts, plus bonuses and benefits. Teams that exceed $189 million on the CBT for the first time in 2014, '15 or '16 -- the last year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement -- are taxed 17.5 percent on the overage. The Angels are still roughly $10 million below the tax in 2014, and more than $27 million for Vernon Wells and Joe Blanton will come off the books after that.
Trout -- a two-time All-Star and the unanimous choice for the AL's Rookie of the Year Award in 2012 -- has already done things few, if any, ever have.
He's the sixth qualified batter since 1900 to hit at least .320 in both his age-20 and -21 season, joining Ty Cobb, Stuffy McInnis, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott and Ted Williams. He joins Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Pujols as one of four players all time to bat .320 with 50 homers and 200 runs in his first two full seasons. And he joins Willie Mays as the only player to have two seasons with a .320 average, 25 homers and 30 steals at any point in their career.
Trout just so happened to do that in his first two.
"He's a special kid, man," Pujols said earlier in camp. "He's a very special kid. And if he stays healthy, I'm telling you, the last couple of years is just the start of a great career."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.