Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trout's Team-Friendly Extension

Trout scored a massive payday that will pay him like the superstar he is (CBS)
Five months after inspiring heated MVP debate and discussion, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout are in the news again, this time for the record-breaking contract extensions they signed on the same day.

Cabrera, of course, just signed an eight-year, $248 million deal to follow the two years and $48 million still remaining on his current contract. All told, the $292 million (not including the additional $60 million he could earn in vesting options) lump sum is the most ever committed to one player.

Coming on the heels of that, Trout's six-year, $144.5 million extension not only pales in comparison, but also looks like a veritable bargain. Whereas Cabrera's instantly regrettable contract is a perfect example of the kind of deal teams should never, ever make under any circumstance, Trout's extension is the polar opposite. If a team is going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a baseball player, it should at least get the player's prime years in return instead of his entire decline phase. The deals made with Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, and Josh Hamilton are all albatrosses because they drastically overpay said players for the back end of their careers. These megadeals are much more likely to work out when given to the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers of the world, young and supremely talented all-around players still years away from reaching their peaks.

Nobody is more deserving of such a deal than Trout, the best young player in baseball history. Since he already signed for a million dollars this year, his new extension kicks in next year and runs through 2020, when he'll be 29--still in his prime and young enough to command a ten year deal of his own that will likely be the largest sports contract ever seen. For now, Trout will have to settle for the most money ever given to a player with just two years of service time.

And it's still not enough--not even close. FanGraphs valued Trout's performance at almost $100 million in the last two seasons alone (when he made about $1 million in player salaries), which means he could be half the player he was in 2012 and 2013 and still be worth every cent. And if he gets better, as most players in their early 20s tend to do, or just keeps playing like the modern-day Willie Mays, then his contract will look even better.

So while I'm sure the Angels regret their most recent nine-figure commitments (to Pujols and Hamilton), they won't regret this one. Trout will be worth the money and then some.

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