It's impending upon us, sooner and sooner with each passing day.
Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw were considered the two players most eagerly anticipating extensions headed into this offseason. Kershaw now has his, and the Dodgers almost seemed to hand him a blank check on it. In terms of average annual value, Kershaw is now the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball.
Mike Trout, of course, is considered to be the one player who can top him. We all cherish him like no other Angel to have stepped on the diamond. We all also realize that any Trout extension is not likely to happen until DURING the 2014 season, so that its effects on the payroll don't come until the 2015 season, when Vernon Wells, Joe Blanton, Sean Burnett and Raul Ibanez all come off the books, freeing up anywhere between $30-35 million in payroll. After arbitration cases for other players take their natural case, it's safe to assume there will be about $20-25 million in payroll room to play with on a Trout extension.
So what would it look like?
If I'm Mike Trout's agent, I'm looking for the richest contract in baseball history. One to MAKE baseball history. Trout is a sure bet to become baseball's first $300 million player, now that Kershaw's extension is set. And if I'm Jerry Dipoto, I'm looking to pay Trout enough to where it's certain he's being paid with the expectation of being baseball's best, and worth every penny, while at the same time, not crippling the team's payroll to restrict them from other moves.
Let's assume on the lower end of the aforementioned figures and say the Angels have $20 million of wiggle room for a Trout extension to start. Here's how I construct it.
|2015||$15,000,000 (plus $5 million signing bonus)|
|2019||$30,000,000 (opt-out #1 w/ $10 million buyout)|
|2024||$36,000,000 (opt-out #2 w/ $15 million buyout)|
|TOTAL||$365,000,000 (if all 12 years fulfilled; signing bonus included)|
There's no cheap, uniform or easy way to go with this. Mike Trout will get paid BIG, and his contract will be unique, however it's decided. This contract sets two records: longevity and total salary earned. He falls short of Kershaw's AAV by approximately $300K, which is mere pennies in this discussion. Let's look at this contract, however, as three separate pacts.
In the first scenario, Mike Trout is guaranteed (signing bonus and buyout included) 5 years and $125 million. Equivalent to Ryan Howard and Josh Hamilton. This ends after his age-27 season, when, if he so desired, he could take on the open market to see if he could top the remaining seven years the Angels would guarantee him (which would offer him an AAV of $34.4 million). If it's the money Trout's after, this is the likeliest scenario. Even still, this is a fair contract for the team that buys out two years of free agency and still gives him the highest AAV of anyone on the team (tying him with Josh Hamilton).
In the second scenario, Mike Trout is guaranteed (signing bonus and buyout included) 10 years and $302 million. This carries an AAV of $30.2 million and, in and of itself, would be a record setting contract, taking him through past his age-32 season. He would hold the highest AAV, contract value and contract length on the team, and among active baseball players (tied for the lattermost with Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano). It'd be hard to see Trout opting out after this, but at the same time, if Trout is still improving by this point and knows he can earn upwards of $40 million annually afterward, he very well could. It could also be that, if he wants to have more guaranteed years with the Angels past the two years guaranteed beyond this opt-out, he could opt out and negotiate a new deal with the team, should he so choose.
In the third scenario, Mike Trout is guaranteed (signing bonus included) 12 years and $365 million. This contract breaks all records except for average annual value. He coasts comfortably and richly through to his age-34 season, at which point if he is still doing what Trout does, he could probably, very comfortably, command a still-rich deal for 4-6 years with a comparable AAV (a la Derek Jeter after his 10-year extension ended).
Wait, you mean I forgot about incentives? Oh, silly me. Let's get to those.
|INCENTIVE TRIGGER||INCENTIVE PAYOUT|
|All-Star Game selection||$25,000 (per season)|
|All-Star Game starter||$50,000 (per season; cumulative with above ASG)|
|Stolen base champion||$100,000 (per season)|
|Batting champion||$500,000 (per season)|
|Silver Slugger winner||$100,000 (per season)|
|Gold Glove winner||$100,000 (per season)|
|Most Valuable Player, top 3||$100,000 (per season)|
|Most Valuable Player, winner||$1,000,000 (per season; cumulative with above MVP)|
|300 career stolen bases||$1,000,000|
|600 career stolen bases||$2,500,000|
|900 career stolen bases||$5,000,000|
|300 career home runs||$2,000,000|
|400 career home runs||$4,000,000|
|500 career home runs||$6,000,000|
|600 career home runs||$8,000,000|
|2,000 career hits||$2,500,000|
|2,500 career hits||$5,000,000|
|3,000 career hits||$10,000,000|
|MAXIMUM INCENTIVE PAYOUT||$70,900,000|
Mikey from Millville could be an extremely rich man before he even turns 34. With all incentives achieved, his contract value goes from $365 million to $435.9 million, which is a contract value that is unlikely to ever be broken. Now, does he hit every single incentive before he turns 34? Does he steal 900 bags, hit 600 home runs and achieve 3,000 hits, win 12 MVPs and start 12 All-Star Games? Highly unlikely all before he turns 34; he'd have to average 63 stolen bases, 41 home runs and 200 hits per season to achieve that before his age-33 season ended (not that the lattermost of the three is all that hard for Trouty).
This is just an idea of what it might take. What do you all think?