Analyzing Mike Trout’s Extension
Writer: Layten Praytor
As of Tuesday morning, Mike Trout is now baseball’s latest mega-star to receive an equally mega-sized contract when he and the Angels agreed to a 12 year, $430 million deal that will keep the game’s unanimous best player in Southern California until his age 39 season. As we are all aware by now, this is in fact the largest sports contract in North American sports history, passing Canelo Alvarez’s 11-fight, $365 million deal in 2018. Trout’s deal also includes no opt-outs and will guarantee him a whopping $36 million yearly salary, which if we are being completely objective, is actually a bargain. He is baseball’s latest half a billion dollar man.. For now.
So, what does this deal mean right now?
In the short term at least, it is an absolute win for not only Trout, but also the Angels and the game of baseball. Regardless of the criticism that Trout has received for his inept ability to be marketable despite the fact he has a stranglehold on the title for the best player of his generations and possibly the generations that preceded him, Trout was without question worth every single penny of this deal. Of course, unlike in basketball and football to a degree, one otherworldly player doesn’t necessarily guarantee regular season success, much less postseason success. This is not news to Trout and the Angels, as they have yet to amass even a single playoff win since Trout’s first full season in the big leagues in 2012.
And so, the Angels must capitalize quickly on Trout’s prime years as best they since they have already wasted his previous seven seasons and attempt to make this team as competitive as possible. Albert Pujols’ albatross of a contract and the amount of injuries sustained to the pitching staff over the course of the past couple seasons aside, the Angels are actually better positioned to have future success that one might think. Their farm system has slowly made its way back to being fruitful as now it ranks 12th among all 30 teams. They have two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani who is only 23 years old and despite undergoing Tommy John surgery this offseason, he proved in a small sample size last season that he can both hit and pitch not only effectively, but at an elite level. Not to mention their owner, Arte Moreno, is aggressive and willing to do what it takes to win, almost to a fault even. Lastly, they have two of the greatest sales pitches of all-time: Mike Trout and Southern California. Most guys would be hard pressed to turn that combination down.
All that being said, what does all of this mean in the bigger picture?
To begin with, you would not be considered crazy if you saw this deal as the Angels acting out of fear of Trout eventually leaving in two years. It was certainly no secret that Trout grew up in south New Jersey as a huge Philadelphia sports fan and with Bryce Harper’s recent comments about the recruitment of Trout to the Phillies following the 2020 season, the Angels no doubt felt they needed to address Trout’s contract situation right away and lay any uncertainty to rest immediately.
Also, what does this mean for future stars coming up for their own respective mega-payday? For guys like Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Seager, it does not necessarily mean that they will get “Trout Money.” While it certainly could not hurt to start there during negotiations with their respective teams, the only player likely to get close to what Trout just received is like Mookie Betts. Whether that deal comes with the Red Sox or another team remains to be seen, as Betts has all but said he intends to test free agency. For the other stars, it is absolutely possible, if not likely, that they sign extensions with their current clubs to avoid the cat and mouse game that Harper and Machado just endured.
Finally, just because baseball’s biggest and brightest stars are getting the deals that they rightfully deserve, that does not mean that there isn’t still a problem within the sport and the broken financial system. There is still essentially an exodus of the middle class where viable and serviceable major leaguers are being forced to sign one year deals and even minor league deals because they are being valued differently than they once were. So don’t let this recent frenzy of mega-contracts and extensions fool you, baseball still has a ways to go to fix the bigger and more pressing issue.