A lot of (digital) ink has already been spilled on this topic, but I've been thinking a lot about a possible Mike Trout extension, and I wanted to share my thoughts.
As a starting note-- I'm only going to discuss contracts that come into effect for the 2014 season, because I think if the Angels and Trout can't get a deal done before then, an extension isn't likely to come.
The first thing that needs to be taken into account when thinking about a Trout contract is that it has to be equitable and reasonable for both sides. I really think that anyone who is throwing out $30 AAV or 15 year deals isn't being reasonable-- if the Angels wanted to pay that much, they would simply wait until Trout hit free agency. The reason for this is simple-- Trout won't make that much over the next four years. If no extension comes, Trout's earnings for the next four seasons could look something like this
2014- $0.5 million
2015- $14 million
2016- $18 million
2022- $22 million
even with these numbers, which are uncharted territory as far as arbitration goes, would give Trout $54.5 million dollars over the next four years, or $13.6 million dollars yearly. For Trout to sign an extension, he'd have to make a good chunk more than that over the remainder of his time under team control. Of course, for it to be worth it for the Angels, they'll have to get a few of his free agency years in the extension. What sort of contract, then, would be reasonable?
As I see it, the minimum amount of years the Angels would sign Trout for is six, and the maximum is ten. Six is the least that would be worth it for the Angels, and ten is likely the absolute most Trout would want to take (so as to have another chance at the free agent market.) The best and most likely contract I see is a nine-year deal with an opt-out option for Trout after six. I could see it being structured like this:
2014- $12 million
2015- $15 million
2016- $18 million
2017- $21 million
2018- $23 million
2019- $25 million (opt-out option after this season)
2020- $27 million
2021- $29 million
2022- $30 million
Total- 9 years, $200 million ($22.2 million AAV)
So, let's break this down. The best way to see this is as two separate deals.
The first deal is a 6 year/$114 million dollar contract, which would be the effective cost of the deal if Prince Fish opted out after six years. The $19 million AAV seems low, but only if you neglect the money Trout would be picking up over if he waited for arbitration. The first four years of the deal, with an AAV of $16.5 million, would net Trout at least $10 million more than he would get waiting for arbitration. This would make up for the $24 million AAV of the final two years of the deal, which is almost certainly lower than what free agency would pay him. If Trout elected to opt out after 2019, then he would hit the free agent market at 28, and (assuming he keeps up his current production) would be almost certain to nab the largest contract in history.
I believe that the opt-out clause is necessary because it gives Trout a shot at hitting the open market younger than most players do, and securing the maximum payday possible. Of course, that might make one question why a nine-year deal is necessary. Although it isn't likely that Trout would not opt out, the extra three years are important for several reasons. First and foremost is security. If, by some cruel twist of fate, Trout's production slips off, he still gets nine years of big money. Another reason for the longer length of the deal is a simple one-- it looks better. There are tons of 6 year, $114 million deals. There are very few $200 million deals-- Trout would instantly have the eighth-largest contract in sports history. Finally, Trout could decide to not opt out simply because of goodwill. If he was in a position to opt out at age 28 and chose not to, he would likely leave some money on the table, but the Angels and its fans have (and hopefully will continue to) treated him well. The $28.7 million AAV of the final three yeas of the deal could give our young Mr. Trout incentive to remain an Angel until age 31, and then hopefully for life.
So, those are my thoughts on the best possible extension for Trout. Comment below with your thoughts.