Mike Trout, the unanimous best player in baseball, signed a mega contract that will keep him with the Los Angeles Angels for life.
Halo Heaven’s very own Jessica DeLine broke down the initial story and the rest of the writers gave their initial thoughts on the Trout deal. Trout, if you haven’t heard, signed a 12-year-deal worth nearly $430 million, the largest contract in North American sports history.
*UPDATE: The 12 year deal includes the final two years of his current deal (two years, $66.5 million).*
The very obvious implications of this deal are not only huge for Trout but also for the Angels and the rest of baseball. This deal ensures that Trout won’t have to test free agency ever again and has guaranteed financial security for many generations of Trout’s family. After signing a six year, $144.5 million dollar deal prior to the 2014 season, Trout’s second major deal guarantees him over $500 million of earnings in his career.
For the Angels, rather than urgently trying to win before he was slated to leave in free agency after 2020, the club can now have a long-term view on building a winner. In his Angels tenure, General Manager Billy Eppler has slowly built the organization up, from the bottom levels all the way to the MLB level. While the results haven’t shown up on the field, players such as Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons, Jo Adell and Griffin Canning give Trout a legitimate supporting cast for the near future.
For the rest of baseball, Trout’s deal eliminates several teams who were likely going to be big players for Trout, namely the Philadelphia Phillies. Bryce Harper, the newest member of the Phillies, was already alluring to Trout coming to Philadelphia and even got accused of tampering. This is all for naught now as Trout is locked in as an Angel for life.
While $400+ million for any single player carries inherent risk, it’s possible that this deal is well under market value for Trout. If you buy into Wins Above Replacement, Trout’s value is on a whole different level than the rest of baseball. Since 2012, Trout’s 64.2 WAR is nearly 20 wins higher than the next best player (Buster Posey at 45.4). Trout is not just the best player in baseball; he’s in a class of his own.
After a slight drop off in production in 2014, the year he ironically won his first American League Most Valuable Player Award, Trout has found a way to improve in some fashion every year since. After establishing an already elite baseline, Trout decided to improve in a major category in each year since.
-In 2015, Trout started hitting for more power, slugging a career high .590 with 41 home runs while also shaving his strikeout rate.
-In 2016, after only stealing 27 combined bases the two years prior, Trout swiped 30 bags, shaved his strikeout rate again and posted a career best (to date) .441 on base percentage.
-Trout had a significant injury for the first time in 2017 but when he was on the field for 114 games, he ran a 181 wRC+ while walking more than he struck out.
-2018 brought everything together with Trout slugging 39 home runs, stealing 24 bases, nearly walking as many times as he struck out and improving his defense in center field. Had he not missed 22 games due to injury and the tragic passing of his brother-in-law, Trout might’ve won his third American League MVP award.
Trout has reached the point where he essentially has no flaws in his game, is consistently an elite player and is still just 27 years old. If Trout ages like the all-time greats, there’s a chance this deal has loads of surplus value in it. To illustrate:
Incredible to think that $430M over 12 years could be a bargain, but that is almost certainly the case with the Angels in Trout (look at the “ages poorly” option!!!!).— Ben Gellman-Chomsky (@benjgc) March 19, 2019
H/T to @fangraphs
Cc @jjcoop36 @keithlaw @alexspeier pic.twitter.com/WpV4Ww4fcO
To reiterate, $430 million is plenty of money and Trout will certainly be financially stable but this deal is not only fair but it may be a bargain. Trout will earn somewhere around $35.8 million each season, which is the highest AAV (Average Annual Value) in the sport, but it’s a justified figure.
This is a win-win for the Angels and Mike Trout. The club locks up a generational talent, confirming he’ll enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the Angels someday, while Trout doesn’t have to negotiate a deal for the rest of his career. The next step for the Angels is to find a way to get Trout and the rest of the team into the playoffs.