Last June, as Mike Trout was in the midst of tearing apart the American league to the tune of a .372/.419/.531 slash line, fans took to social media outlets to voice their opinions on whether or not Trout should be given an extension as soon as possible. Mountains of ideas spewed from fingertips onto keyboards and smartphones ranging from just north of the “Longoria contract” to an absurd amount of money to a then 20 year old kid who could have simply been having a good month. Different types of contract ideas were thrown around. “Give him $70MM over seven years” tweeted one individual. “10/100” said another, “Back up the Brinks truck and unload it onto his lawn.” As the discussions grew to be more serious, the idea of adding option years to entice Trout into staying were thrown into the mix along with opt out clauses and incentives. Fans were relentless, they were also scared. Scared that this player, who is quite possibly a generational talent, might one day leave for the riches that almost assuredly await him when it comes time for him to enter free agency.
Earlier today, those fears came screaming back to the forefront thanks to a series of tweets from LA Times columnist Mike DiGiovanna, breaking the news that Trout’s contract renewal was for $510,000 for the 2013 season. Sending fans on Twitter into a frenzy. Seriously, go to twitter.com, sear "Trout," and watch the meltdown.
$510,000. $20,000 more than the league minimum. I said it earlier on Twitter, and I will say it again here; I really hope that this is not the beginning of a bitter relationship between Mike Trout and the Angels.
It’s very possible (more than likely perhaps) that Dipoto is using the fact that Trout has only one good year under his belt, and that there is no guarantee that he will replicate – or even approach – the level of play that showcased in 2012. The landscape is littered with the carcasses of players who burst onto the scene as fantastic rookies only to have the careers sputter and then subsequently end (see Prior, Mark). How would it look if the Angels had handed Brandon Wood a deal similar to Evan Longoria’s based upon what he had done in the minor leagues before ever setting foot on a major league diamond? And the list goes on. Suffice it to say, the Rays got incredibly lucky that Longoria has panned out. It has also become the bar that most fans look to when considering the prospects on their favorite team. Which in this case is Michael Nelson Trout.
Mike Trout isn’t commenting on it, suggesting that he understands that he is still far from arbitration and doesn’t really have a leg to stand on in this matter. His agent Craig Landis on the other hand was more than willing to comment.
Now, before you grab the pitchforks and torches, this is just Landis trying to do his best for his client, and considering he hit the sports agent lottery with Mike Trout, he absolutely should do everything he can to get Trout what he deserves. On the flip side, it reads as though he is putting words into Mike’s mouth, which could end up hurting his relationship with the club. Landis is saying things in this release that are the exact opposite of what Mike Trout himself has said in public interviews, especially with regards to his move to left field. It is one thing to stand up for your client, it is quite another to paint him as a possible malcontent.
In light of the events of the day, I have come to the conclusion that three things need to happen in the near future:
1.) Landis needs to resist the urge to talk to the press and release statements on behalf of Trout. It is not helping him in future negotiations to suggest a possible rift between the Angels young superstar and the front office.
2.) It is obvious the Angels didn’t want to set a precedent with Trout (they use a sliding salary scale for players with 0-3 years of service time), but this should’ve been the exception. If you’re going to set a precedent, set at the highest possible mark that you can.
3.) Extend him, and extend him soon. The idea that Trout is going to get a Longoria type of deal is now clearly not an option, and I believe it is safe to assume that suggesting a $100MM contract doesn’t even get the conversation started. I do believe that Dipoto and Arte Moreno are more than likely waiting to see if Trout is more than a one year wonder, but if he is able to replicate – or even approach – what he did in 2012, lock him up and lock him up quick.
The initial anger and annoyance has worn off, and after taking a step back and thinking about it, Trout is at least getting paid more than he was supposed to as a second year player. It’s not a lot more, but it is more. The fact remains though that a small piece of me is still very concerned with this news. Fans want Trout to remain an Angel, and not just for six years, fans want him to be an Angel for life. Mike Trout is five tools plus one player, that one is makeup, and his makeup was always considered to be off the charts. Here’s to hoping that that hasn’t changed since he set the American League on it’s ear last year, and that (hopefully) an extension is on the horizon.