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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Mike Trout: 6 years, $144.5 million

Trout is clearly an elite hitter already, at age 22. There is certainly no reason, on the surface, to question whether he’ll be worth his recent six-year, $144.5M extension that will carry him through his age 28 season. Still, let’s look into the game’s past and try to identify his peer group. Does he even have one? How did they age, when did they peak, and what might the future hold for Mike Trout, and for the Angels’ investment in him?

[...]

The start to Trout’s career is almost unparalleled in modern baseball history. He ranks fourth on the all-time list of players with the most cumulative standard deviations above league average OBP and SLG in their first two years as a regular, behind Babe Ruth, Joe Jackson and Frank Thomas – who were all three years older and more physically mature than Trout when they completed their second seasons as regulars. Yup, he was younger at the end of his second year as a regular than they all were at the beginning of their first.

OK, that’s not what the article is about.  But we could use a thread to discuss the contract itself.

An Athletic in Powderhorn™ Posted: April 03, 2014 at 02:29 PM | 96 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, contract extensions, history, mike trout

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   1. Shredder Posted: April 03, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4678601)
He better start hitting more homers, lest the $58MM in salary following him in the order strikes out yet again, stranding him at second after a lead off double. Glad to have him on my team, and glad he's getting a pretty good deal, but I feel bad that he's stuck with such a miserable organization.
   2. A triple short of the cycle Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4678609)
It continues to blow my mind that Trout was drafted 25th. After four other outfielders had gone. After my team drafted Grant Green at 13. Never have heard what they thought of Trout. The uncertainty in player development is fascinating.
   3. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4678611)
A bargain.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4678616)
It continues to blow my mind that Trout was drafted 25th.


I seem to remember some doubts about him because he was a NJ prep star, and northern prep stars are seen as being raw because they're not up against the top competition like southern kids are. IIRC, people loved his ceiling, but he was considered risky because we didn't know how good he was due to his perceived competition.
   5. I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4678619)
“It was the fact, unfortunately, that he played in the Northeast,” said Eddie Bane, now a scout and player personnel assistant for the Red Sox. “Billy Rowell had come out of there, got drafted by the Orioles, and failed. A couple others too. Scouts tend to do things in packs, kind of assume things. Trout had played on some East Coast showcase teams, but not the U.S. [national] team. He got a scholarship to East Carolina, but not to Clemson, Miami, or Georgia Tech. It was a group mistake.”

The Angels weren’t the only team that saw Trout as a future star. The New Jersey native worked out for the Yankees and blew everyone away, including scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, who was set to pounce if Trout slid all the way to their 29th overall pick. Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota also loved Trout, and thought long and hard before opting for Grant Green at no. 13 overall. But the Angels ranked Trout as their second-favorite high school player that year, and ended up getting their man.


Link.

As an A's fan, this rankles.

   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4678622)
BA Draft Preview: Mike Trout

Trout has turned himself into a favorite of scouts in the Northeast, both for his talent and his makeup. An East Carolina commitment, he has rocketed up draft boards as a senior, thanks to an improved offensive approach. Last year, even in the fall, he had a tendency to bail out in the batter's box, particularly against sliders. This spring he has quieted his approach and improved against breaking balls, and he's shown the ability to hit hard line drives to all fields, though his swing still gets loopy and long at times. Halfway through the spring, Trout even began working on hitting lefthanded, and he showed some aptitude for it. Trout's frame and skill set draws comparisons to Aaron Rowand, but he's a faster runner—he runs the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds. He has good range and instincts in center field and plenty of arm for the position. Trout's bat is not a sure thing, but he has a chance to be a solid-average hitter with average or better power. Like Rowand, Trout is a grinder who always plays the game hard."


John Sickels had Trout ranked 24th on his pre-draft board.


Rosenthal: How the Angels hooked a Trout

Call it anti-East Coast bias. Anti-New Jersey bias. Maybe even anti-Billy Rowell bias.

There is more to the story, much more, but what the heck. Let’s start by blaming Jersey.

Rowell probably should be left out of this, but like Trout, he hails from South Jersey, an area that doesn’t produce many major leaguers.

The Baltimore Orioles drafted Rowell, a corner infielder, with the ninth pick of the ’06 draft. And Rowell, in the words of former Angels scouting director Eddie Bane, the man who selected Trout, “completely went in the tank,” became a bust.

Now, any scout could see that Trout wasn’t Rowell. Trout could run. Trout could hit. And Trout had power. But if Rowell flopped . . .

Sounds crazy. But baseball people sometimes engage in groupthink, casting aspersions on an entire region due to the failings of one player.

Bane, who is now a major-league scout with the Tigers, says a number of teams simply could not believe that a kid as good as Trout could be from Jersey.
   7. SG Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4678626)
The Yankees supposedly had Trout #1 on their board the year he was drafted.
   8. Baldrick Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4678643)
LOL, Aaron Rowand.

Man, prediction is tough.
   9. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4678662)
LOL, Aaron Rowand.

Man, prediction is tough.


Well, they were right; he is a little faster than Aaron Rowand.
   10. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4678667)
I don't appreciate being reminded of Billy Rowell.
   11. McCoy Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4678674)
I asked myself who the Cubs drafted instead of Trout and I thought to myself that it was probably some toolsy guy that sucked. Fortunately for the Cubs they picked after the Angels so at the very least when Brett Jackson busts they escaping from all the wailing about how they could have drafted Trout instead.
   12. McCoy Posted: April 03, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4678678)
As for the Yankees I'd think they'd rather have Trout than Teixiera right about now.
   13. SG Posted: April 03, 2014 at 04:01 PM (#4678691)
The Angels were always going to take Trout before the Yankees. They had a pick before the compensation pick the Yankees gave them and only took Trout second as an internal joke.

SI: Mike Trout, the perfect catch (cont.)

With the 24th pick, the Angels submitted their name: Randal Grichuk, who was also a high school outfielder, but from Texas. "Morhardt almost fainted," says Bane. "That was kind of cruel of me, but I thought it was funny." Grichuk is currently hitting .271 for High-A Inland Empire. With the following pick, Bane took Trout.
   14. FrankM Posted: April 03, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4678702)
Many years ago, mid 1980's I think, Bill James did a historical analysis of the draft to that point. I believe it was in a short-lived newsletter he put out. Anyway, my recollection is that he felt the northeast was underscouted. Still the case I guess.
   15. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 03, 2014 at 04:08 PM (#4678704)
Hey, Aaron Rowand would have been a great pick at #25 too.
   16. AROM Posted: April 03, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4678710)
The Yankees supposedly had Trout #1 on their board the year he was drafted.


Makes it even sweeter that the Angels used the Yankee comp pick to take him.

I had a good feeling on draft day about Trout, but it was nothing more than a hunch. Part of it was him actually showing up on draft day, and just really looking like a big league player (not that common even for the greatest when they are only 17).

Went to spring training in 2010, arrived late to the game with seats on the 3B side. Got there just in time to see Trout enter the game, line a drive to right center, and slide in for a triple.

The unpredictability of player development is amazing.

"Last year, even in the fall, he had a tendency to bail out in the batter's box, particularly against sliders. This spring he has quieted his approach and improved against breaking balls, and he's shown the ability to hit hard line drives to all fields, though his swing still gets loopy and long at times."

And in just 4 years he went from having trouble with HS breaking balls to being about the best on the planet hitting MLB breaking balls. All the teams that passed on Trout are kicking themselves, but you might as well forget it. There won't be another player like this for another 50-60 years.
   17. Brian Posted: April 03, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4678737)
I seem to remember a team exec saying they went to see him 3 times and there were 3 rainouts. I can't remember who but the point was that Northeast players are harder to scout than you'd even think.
   18. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 03, 2014 at 04:59 PM (#4678744)
He looked like a slow pitch softball player on that HR he hit in the first game. He didn't hit it that far, but it seemed like it took no effort at all.
   19. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:13 PM (#4678761)
The contract is a bargain.

It's not like Longoria where they may have still been some doubt, everyone knows he's Mantle. Health is the only issue that will prevent Trout from posting 40+ WAR over the course of this contract. A bargain. Nice move by the Angels and all Trout has to do is what Mike Trout does; give all fans of baseball joy.
   20. Willie Mayspedester Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4678762)
Wow 144 million is a lot less than a billion.
   21. AROM Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4678765)
It's not like Longoria where they may have still been some doubt, everyone knows he's Mantle.


The question is, is he actually a Mantle? Where was Mickey Mantle around November of 1990? Mick spent a lot of time at the Casinos, and Millville is only a half hour away from Atlantic City. Just sayin'
   22. AROM Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:26 PM (#4678767)
Just a joke, I don't mean to question the integrity of Debbie Trout. Besides, we know that Mickey's actual offspring couldn't hit: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=mantle002mic
   23. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:37 PM (#4678783)
The contract is a bargain.

An enormous bargain. He was looking at something ridiculous like 18-25-32 in arbitration, and the first three years of free agency, without the opportunity to amortize their cost by overpaying him when he's 38, probably should've gone for like 40 apiece.

Trout must be incredibly risk-averse, because he gave up gobs and gobs of money to basically guard against losing a limb to shark attack, because the realistic worst-case scenario -- that he breaks his femur stepping on first base and becomes Ruben Mateo -- still sees him making $20 or 30 million.
   24. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4678795)
I disagree that Trout is risk-averse to take this contract. The first hundred million is the life changer, giving up some marginal amount after that won't make a huge impact. And if he continues to be Mantle, he'll sign a gigantic contract after this one.
   25. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:50 PM (#4678798)
On my fantasy league chat board this morning, we were arguing about whether these 8-10 year, $200M+ contracts given to 30 year olds made any sense (I was arguing "con"). One guy said (since I'm a Reds fan) "Compared (sic) Votto, Mike Trout is work $600 million! ####### fool", to which I replied "(C)ompared to Votto (or Cabrera or Cano or anyone else), if he can stay healthy, Trout might easily be worth $500M or more"

Yeah, he took a huge discount, but he's going to hit FA again as a 29 year old, on a The The Angels Angels of Anaheim team with Hamilton long gone and Pujols in the last year of his contract. Heck, there's nothing to keep TTAAofA from renegotiating early and signing him to a $500M extension if they so desire.
   26. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4678805)
He looked like a slow pitch softball player on that HR he hit in the first game. He didn't hit it that far, but it seemed like it took no effort at all.


Not at all a horrible pitch either--down and in, out of the zone.
   27. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4678810)
Not at all a horrible pitch either--down and in, out of the zone.

Exactly. That was a pretty decent pitch from Felix Freaking Hernandez.
   28. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4678811)
I disagree that Trout is risk-averse to take this contract. The first hundred million is the life changer, giving up some marginal amount after that won't make a huge impact. And if he continues to be Mantle, he'll sign a gigantic contract after this one.

He was virtually guaranteed the first hundred anyway. He's not a pitcher, so it takes a wildly implausible scenario -- suffers a season-ending injury right now that renders him terrible forever -- for his downside to be $20 million. If the big injury happens next year, after he's already gotten the first huge arbitration award, it then becomes almost impossible to hold him under 40. And, again, this is assuming he becomes completely disposable in the wake of the injury, which is absurd. If he blows out a knee and comes back as a Jayson Werth-level player, he gets much more than $100 million.
   29. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4678815)

An enormous bargain. He was looking at something ridiculous like 18-25-32 in arbitration, and the first three years of free agency, without the opportunity to amortize their cost by overpaying him when he's 38, probably should've gone for like 40 apiece.

Trout must be incredibly risk-averse, because he gave up gobs and gobs of money to basically guard against losing a limb to shark attack, because the realistic worst-case scenario -- that he breaks his femur stepping on first base and becomes Ruben Mateo -- still sees him making $20 or 30 million.


If the upside is $190 million and the downside is $20 million, $144 million seems like a completely reasonable amount of risk aversion. And of course, the real downside is less than $20.
   30. Publius Publicola Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4678817)
Eddie Bane, from what I know of him, seems like a guy with both feet firmly planted on the ground.
   31. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:15 PM (#4678818)
If he blows out a knee and comes back as a Jayson Werth-level player, he gets much more than $100 million.

What if he takes a pitch in the face and becomes Tony Conigliaro or Kirby Puckett? I know he's not a pitcher but, you know, #### can happen both on and off the field that can pretty much end a guy's career, not simply turn him into Jayson Werth (who, you know, put up 4.5 WAR season the year before that contract).
   32. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:27 PM (#4678822)
"But he might go blind in one eye due to glaucoma before his big payday in 11 months!" kinda makes the "incredibly risk-averse" case for me.
   33. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:27 PM (#4678823)
#### can happen, but as you attested yourself, #### on that level happens once a generation and it is extraordinarily unlikely it would happen to Mike Trout specifically, and within the next two years. He and his agent could certainly have gotten catastrophe insurance against that, had they chosen to do so.

I'm sure Trout feels pretty good about a guaranteed $144 million even if he might have gotten more had he held out for more. It is highway robbery for the Angels, who are likely to get $300 million or more worth of value out of him over the next six years.
   34. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4678824)
I can't see how guaranteeing yourself and your family $140M when you're 22 years old, with the opportunity to sign another contract for $300-400M when you're 29, is a bad move.
   35. Baldrick Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4678833)
An enormous bargain. He was looking at something ridiculous like 18-25-32 in arbitration, and the first three years of free agency, without the opportunity to amortize their cost by overpaying him when he's 38, probably should've gone for like 40 apiece.

Really? Isn't the current record for the first year still just $10 million? I mean, yes Trout is better than Ryan Howard, but I can't see any world where he even ASKED for $18 million in the first year, much less got it. I'm guessing the negotiations involved general agreement that Trout was looking to make somewhere around $50-60 million in arbitration, which means the Angels basically paid $30 million per year for three free agent years. Which, yes, is a pretty nifty deal. And it has about as small a chance of hurting them as any 6 year mega-deal possibly could. But it doesn't seem crazy or unreasonable for Trout.
   36. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4678836)
#### can happen, but as you attested yourself, #### on that level happens once a generation and it is extraordinarily unlikely it would happen to Mike Trout specifically, and within the next two years. He and his agent could certainly have gotten catastrophe insurance against that, had they chosen to do so.
Nothing specific has to happen; sometimes a player quits being good at an unusually young age.
   37. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4678838)
I do wonder if Trout's agent might not have held out to get a player option tacked onto the end of this contract (it would be reported as, say, 8/205 with an opt-out after 6 years). I have a hard time imagining the Angels would refuse, and it would add that extra little bit of protection against the extremely unlikely career-altering disaster.

TDF: Comparing Mike Trout to Vada Pinson is absurd. No one with anything close to Trout's first two seasons has ever turned out to be anything but an inner circle Hall of Famer.

To illustrate this point I looked for all players in history that amassed 20 bWAR in their first three major league seasons; this undersells Trout, who amassed 20 in barely more than two seasons. But that doesn't work because there are only three such players in history (Trout, Albert Pujols and Ted Williams). I lowered the threshold to 15 and got a list of 26 players. 18 of them are in the Hall of Fame or obviously will be. These are the exceptions:

* Mike Trout
* Evan Longoria
* Snuffy Stirnweiss
* Art Devlin
* Charlie Keller
* Johnny Pesky
* Austin Jackson
* Dick Allen

The list includes names such as Williams, Pujols, Mathews, Boggs, Robinson, Thomas, Mays, Griffey, Bonds and Musial.

Do with that information what you will.
   38. Squash Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4678841)
I can't see how guaranteeing yourself and your family $140M when you're 22 years old, with the opportunity to sign another contract for $300-400M when you're 29, is a bad move.

It isn't bad, he just could have had a lot more, and we all like more.
   39. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:55 PM (#4678844)
If he blows out a knee and comes back as a Jayson Werth-level player, he gets much more than $100 million.


Or a Grady Sizemore-level player. He doesn't have to go blind.
   40. Squash Posted: April 03, 2014 at 06:58 PM (#4678845)
Nothing specific has to happen; sometimes a player quits being good at an unusually young age.

True, but that's still a pretty specific example - any time we start sourcing the extreme outliers we're really just making the case "against" the contract. It's possible Trout could have fallen into the 1% or whatever of players who catastrophically bomb out, but the most likely thing is that he's going to continue being Trout (or some slightly regressed-to-the-mean version of Trout), at which point he would still have made all this money without having to have given up three free-agency years.
   41. Squash Posted: April 03, 2014 at 07:04 PM (#4678851)
Or a Grady Sizemore-level player. He doesn't have to go blind.

We should keep in mind we're talking about Grady Sizemore who has made $30 million in his career. He signed that contract very early on and before his injury, but also in a very different financial environment. Trout makes that $30 million now even if he blows out his knee tomorrow in arb awards and such for 2015-2017. And that's the major downside.

EDIT: The point being that Trout and many generations of future Trouts were already set for life. Signing away a lot of upside to insure against the very small chance of a catastrophic injury because this sets him up for life seems like a bad move because he was already set for life. If it ain't about the money, it might as well be for the money.
   42. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4678853)
Some of you guys are just being dogged contrarians, comparing Trout to guys like Pinson and Sizemore. Grady Sizemore was a great young player. Our eyes and the stats agree that Mike Trout is one of the most spectacularly talented baseball players in history. He can suffer the same kind of decline Pinson did and he'll still routinely be one of the best players in the league.
   43. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: April 03, 2014 at 07:12 PM (#4678857)

18 of them are in the Hall of Fame or obviously will be.

The list includes names such as Williams, Pujols, Mathews, Boggs, Robinson, Thomas, Mays, Griffey, Bonds and Musial.


Oh boy, here we go...
   44. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 07:38 PM (#4678866)
Well, I think the real answer is that people are overstating how much upside he signed away. $190 million was optimistic. And then you factor in the downside possibilities, which range from glaucoma to HOVG player and lots of things in between. Yes, he obviously gave up something for the security of knowing that he will be paid $144 million no matter what, but I don't think it was as much as you do.
   45. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 03, 2014 at 07:47 PM (#4678872)
Some of you guys are just being dogged contrarians, comparing Trout to guys like Pinson and Sizemore. Grady Sizemore was a great young player. Our eyes and the stats agree that Mike Trout is one of the most spectacularly talented baseball players in history. He can suffer the same kind of decline Pinson did and he'll still routinely be one of the best players in the league.
Not being contrarian; Pinson was ridiculously good as a young player. He is #10 in bWAR thru age 22 (yeah, I know Trout already has more); he was every bit as good as Mantle as a young player (Pinson had 19.9 bWAR through age-22, Mantle 20.1 in a handful more PAs).

Or how about Cesar Cedeno? Over 15 bWAR as a 21-22 year old (in only 1200 PA); one season of more than 2.2 bWAR after turning 27.
   46. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 03, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4678876)
Of course, the injury risk for Trout doesn't really have anything to do with how good a player he is. The risk isn't so much that he could be the next Vada Pinson as that he could be the next Bobby Valentine or the next Dickie Thon.
   47. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 03, 2014 at 10:01 PM (#4678932)
It doesn't have to be Kirby Puckett or Dickie Thon. Trout could easily rip up his knee or break his ankle in a fairly routine play. He'll probably still go on to a HOF career, but it might cost him a year or two of elite production and greatly decrease his leverage in arbitration. Taking the guaranteed $144 million makes a lot of sense. If he's as great as we all hope he is, he'll sign an insane contract for 3-4 times that amount when he's 29.
   48. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 03, 2014 at 11:11 PM (#4678960)
Wow 144 million is a lot less than a billion.


I did the math, and this checks out.

As far as the $144 mill, let's not totally discount the notion too that we are in a sports revenue bubble, and this gravy train won't necessarily last forever. Its nice to get cash money now in case this turns out not to be totally sustainable.
   49. billyshears Posted: April 04, 2014 at 12:45 AM (#4678985)
There probably aren't enough data points for a study, but I have my doubts that the free agent market treats 28 year old FAs any differently than 26 year old FA. If you can get the money on the front end, it may be better to hit free agency at 28 than 26.

Also, we can talk about $500 million contracts, but I tend to think there is a theoretical ceiling on player contracts below that point. It would take a player like Trout to prove such theory correct, but I suspect there is an absolute level of risk inherent in concentrating so much money in one player above which owners/GMs won't tolerate, no matter how good the player.
   50. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 04, 2014 at 12:49 AM (#4678986)
Of course, the injury risk for Trout doesn't really have anything to do with how good a player he is. The risk isn't so much that he could be the next Vada Pinson as that he could be the next Bobby Valentine or the next Dickie Thon.
Even aside from the injury/sudden decline issues, there's always going to be the contract distraction. Trout was heading into years of being bombarded by questions about how the Angels were treating him, how much he could get, how much he SHOULD get, etc. If last year was any indication, he's simply not a guy who cares to deal with that sort of thing. Now, he's set for life, he's wiped out contract issues with both the team and the media, and he can just concentrate on playing ball and being incredibly wealthy. Two or three million per year isn't going to make him feel any more secure.
   51. zachtoma Posted: April 04, 2014 at 01:00 AM (#4678991)
True, but that's still a pretty specific example - any time we start sourcing the extreme outliers we're really just making the case "against" the contract. It's possible Trout could have fallen into the 1% or whatever of players who catastrophically bomb out, but the most likely thing is that he's going to continue being Trout (or some slightly regressed-to-the-mean version of Trout), at which point he would still have made all this money without having to have given up three free-agency years.


Okay, but would you roll the dice on those odds with your career? Even if you had a chance to set up your family for life? He could have gotten more if he waited, but this could also be the peak of his value in his career.
   52. Squash Posted: April 04, 2014 at 02:26 AM (#4679012)
Okay, but would you roll the dice on those odds with your career? Even if you had a chance to set up your family for life? He could have gotten more if he waited, but this could also be the peak of his value in his career.

No, I wouldn't, but I would ask for more cookies if I'm going to sign away three extra years. I have no problem with giving up free agent years - I just think this deal starts a year later than what I think he could have gotten. He's giving them a pretty big arb discount already - they've set his free agency value at $33.25 million a year - if we apply those to his arb numbers and go by 40/60/80 then 2015 would have been $13.3 million, 2016 is $19.95, 2017 is $26.6, for a total of $60.85 million for this year and his arb years. Instead he's getting $6 million (this year's $1 million plus a $5 million signing bonus), $5.25, $15.25, $19.25 = $45.75 million. So he's already in a $15 million hole. Why give them market value free-agent years on top of that?

I just doubt the Angels would say no if he'd asked for more money in the early years - there's only one Mike Trout, you can't replace him, and you're already getting him at a massive discount in his free agent years from his actual value (probably somewhere in the $40-60 million a year range, depending on what you think his true-talent WAR is).
   53. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 07:10 AM (#4679037)
Also, we can talk about $500 million contracts, but I tend to think there is a theoretical ceiling on player contracts below that point.


Maybe. But most of us figured that there was a theoretical ceiling of maybe $125 million right up until the day A-Rod signed for $250 million (which would remain the record contract until A-Rod topped it himself seven years later). A young player with all-time talent breaks the model.
   54. Accent Shallow Posted: April 04, 2014 at 09:03 AM (#4679072)
Just a joke, I don't mean to question the integrity of Debbie Trout. Besides, we know that Mickey's actual offspring couldn't hit: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=mantle002mic


Bobby Bonds and Ken Griffey both had kids who couldn't hit. Sayin'!

   55. McCoy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 09:20 AM (#4679079)
Most of us? Since before the free agency period had even begun the common view was that ARod was a 250 million dollar man.
   56. BDC Posted: April 04, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4679095)
Comps for Trout through age 21, centered on him in terms of OPS+ and PAs, offer few surprises:

Player              dWAR   PA OPSWAR/pos  SB      Pos
Rogers Hornsby       3.2 1199  155    14.4  34  
*6/53H4
Alex Rodriguez       2.0 1523  130    14.4  51    
*6/HD
Ken Griffey          2.0 1805  135    15.5  50    
*8/HD
Arky Vaughan         2.0 1210  131    10.8  13     
*6/H
Al Kaline            1.8 1939  129    15.4  23   
*9/8H7
Mike Trout           1.4 1490  166    20.3  86  
*87/9DH
Frank Robinson       1.0 1344  139    13.4  18   
*7/83H
Giancarlo Stanton    0.6  997  132     6.9  10   
*9/H8D
Jimmie Foxx          0.0 1302  157    13.8  15  
*3/5H29
Mickey Mantle       
-0.5 1552  144    13.2  20 *89/H675
Eddie Mathews       
-0.5 1274  145    10.6   7     *5/H
Sherry Magee        
-0.7 1686  132    12.0 114   *7/983
Stuffy McInnis      
-1.0 1298  129     8.9  53  *3/6457
Ted Williams        
-1.2 1336  161    13.0   6   *97/H1
Orlando Cepeda      
-2.6 1291  129     6.8  38   *3/75H
Ty Cobb             
-2.6 1835  153    15.7 117    *9/87
Tony Conigliaro     
-4.0 1657  130     7.5   6   *9/78H 


Except that it's odd to have a guy be the best hitter on a list centered on him. Even though Trout is the best of the bunch, he's not otherworldly insanely ahead of Hornsby, Williams, Foxx, and a few others.

As I noted, there are no better hitters comparable to Trout, but there is one player who missed the list because he was off the top range in PAs. An easy one to guess, so he doesn't offer too much more that we didn't already know.
   57. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 04, 2014 at 10:08 AM (#4679104)
That list is nutty. To be ahead of Cobb, Hornsby, ARod, Williams, Foxx et al at the same age is hard to comprehend.
   58. Ziggy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4679203)
We've been saying that salaries can't keep going up for 40 years now. And they've gone up 40 years in a row. I know someday I'll be wrong, but I've stopped betting against their continued climb.

And I'd like to point out that not only is Ty Cobb in second place on that list, he's got only 75% of Trout's value. In 340 or so more PA.
   59. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4679227)
Not only that, but Trout's playing against stronger competition than ever before--so much stronger than before the color line broke that it's hard to exaggerate.
   60. bunyon Posted: April 04, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4679256)

I just doubt the Angels would say no if he'd asked for more money in the early years - there's only one Mike Trout, you can't replace him, and you're already getting him at a massive discount in his free agent years from his actual value (probably somewhere in the $40-60 million a year range, depending on what you think his true-talent WAR is).


Do we have evidence they didn't ask for more? I have a hard time believing Trout and his agent didn't negotiate at all here. In which case, the Angels apparently did say no to a bigger contract.

I think people who think Trout is being risk-averse haven't seen enough trouble. The world is a risky place and $144 million will protect you from a lot of it. Go to the mat on the next round of negotiations. But this is a big win for Trout. That it is also a big win for the Angels doesn't negate that.
   61. The Good Face Posted: April 04, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4679270)
Do we have evidence they didn't ask for more? I have a hard time believing Trout and his agent didn't negotiate at all here. In which case, the Angels apparently did say no to a bigger contract.


In light of the recent Boras case, the agent is incentivized to reach a deal here as well. If he pushes Trout to wait 4 years for the monumental FA payoff, there's always a chance he won't be around to reap the benefits. At least this way he's getting his hooks into a 9 figure amount. Also, we don't really know Trout the person and what he values. He might not be a guy who cares about getting every last dollar he can; could be as long as he's getting enough to live large for life, and isn't perceiving the team as "disrespecting" him, he's happy.
   62. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4679271)
I don't think Trout's being especially risk-averse. I think $144 million is a shitload of money and he's happy to not have to worry about any contract negotiations for the next six years. Then in the winter of 2020 he'll sign what he expects to be his last professional contract (probably 12 years) and be done with it.
   63. AROM Posted: April 04, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4679294)
If I were in position to take 144 million right now, or an expected value that exceeds that but with a very wide range of possible outcomes, I don't see any way I could turn down the 144.

He probably doesn't spend 144 in his lifetime anyway. Anything on top of that is how much he wants to give to his family, charities, or the government through the death tax. Imagine having more money than you can spend in a lifetime before your 23rd birthday. Pretty amazing.
   64. AROM Posted: April 04, 2014 at 12:49 PM (#4679300)
Then in the winter of 2020 he'll sign what he expects to be his last professional contract (probably 12 years) and be done with it.


Assuming he's still a ten WAR player then, dollars per WAR, and inflation, what does that contract look like? Pretty staggering.
   65. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4679312)
He'll be 28, so I wouldn't be surprised, if he were still a 10 WAR player, to see someone give him 15 years/$550 million.
   66. Walt Davis Posted: April 04, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4679374)
There probably aren't enough data points for a study, but I have my doubts that the free agent market treats 28 year old FAs any differently than 26 year old FA. If you can get the money on the front end, it may be better to hit free agency at 28 than 26.

In terms of AAV, it probably costs him nothing but in terms of years, it probably costs him two. So if the next contract is, say, 8/$360 it would have been (inflation-adjusted) 10/$450 and he'd be out $24 M.

So he's already in a $15 million hole. Why give them market value free-agent years on top of that?

I'm a bit confused because in that scenario it all makes perfect sense. You give the team the discount on the arb years in exchange for guaranteeing market value FA years now -- that's how it's supposed to work (well, what years they get the discount doesn't matter a lot). It's about a 10% discount on the value.

It's only a "seriously risk averse" deal if Trout's market value is more along the lines of $40 M. In that scenario he gave them a $55 M discount on a $200 M value which is massive.
   67. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 04, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4679408)
Assuming he's still a ten WAR player then..

He'll be 28, so I wouldn't be surprised, if he were still a 10 WAR player...
See, this is just crazy talk. There have been 55 10 bWAR seasons in MLB history; only 3 players have more than 3 such seasons.

Are you really ready to say, 2 seasons in, that Trout is going to have the same career as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays**, or Rogers Hornsby?

**And only 2 of Mays' 10 WAR seasons occurred before he turned 28.
   68. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4679430)
He was virtually guaranteed the first hundred anyway. He's not a pitcher, so it takes a wildly implausible scenario -- suffers a season-ending injury right now that renders him terrible forever -- for his downside to be $20 million.

I don't think you understand the term "wildly implausible". Anyone in the US is one car accident away from being a cripple or a vegetable. He isn't going to win his arb claims from a wheelchair.


   69. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4679441)
I don't think you understand the term "wildly implausible". Anyone in the US is one car accident away from being a cripple or a vegetable. He isn't going to win his arb claims from a wheelchair.


OK. How many major league baseball players have been crippled or killed in a car accident in the past 30 years? We'll even include boating accidents and plane crashes.
   70. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 04, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4679444)
If I were in position to take 144 million right now, or an expected value that exceeds that but with a very wide range of possible outcomes, I don't see any way I could turn down the 144.

Right. The math for rejecting the deal may "work" (I don't know one way or the other), but Mike Trout gets one, and only one, career. If someone walks up to me on the street and hands me $10, then offers to roll a die and if it's 1-5 I get an additional $10, but if it's 6 I have to give the $10 back, I take them up on it (let's assume it's a legit offer).

If they do the same thing with $1 million dollars, I say "no thanks" and keep the million. Even though the math says I should still take it. If I get to do it 10 times, I'll consider it.

My point is that the math doesn't have to make sense at some dollar level. I think it's a little unfair to say that he's extremely risk averse for this. Yes, if he blows out his knee he probably still makes a lot of money. But that's not the floor, is it? He could be in a car accident and lose a limb.
   71. AROM Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4679457)
OK. How many major league baseball players have been crippled or killed in a car accident in the past 30 years? We'll even include boating accidents and plane crashes.


Have you forgotten what franchise Mike Trout plays for? Adenhart's death was only 2 months before Trout was drafted.
   72. Ziggy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4679459)
Car accidents that cripple you are pretty rare. Anecdotes and all, but I can only think of two players in MLB history (actually, Adenhart wasn't even in MLB) to suffer career-ending car accidents. There must be more than those two, but we're talking odds with very small numerators and very large denominators.

And it is crazy talk to think that it wouldn't be surprising if Trout is a 10 WAR player at 28. Of course it would be surprising (especially since he wasn't even a 10 WAR player last year). But it's also worth emphasizing that, so far in his (short, but not negligible) career, Trout has been THE VERY BEST POSITION PLAYER IN HISTORY. No exaggeration there, no one has ever been this good this young. And he's been the very best in history by a LOT. Look at that chart up-thread again. Barring the unlikely career-ending car accident, any arb award would have made him a very wealthy man. There just aren't any reasonable aging curves that have him being anything other than terrific for the next few years.

All that said, the marginal utility of that extra $50 million or so must be pretty low. You can only eat so much caviar. (The marginal utility for charities you might donate it to would be much higher, but who knows what Trout wants to do with his money. Maybe he just wants to swim in it.)
   73. Ron J2 Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4679463)
#70 AROM already touched on this. The differences to most people between a floor of $144 million and what he could get assuming good health is in fact zero. In terms of how it'll affect your life it's basically an accounting fiction.

Does not apply if Jack Clark is your financial adviser or if you want to start an F1 team or something like that.

All that to say that I think the calculations depend a great deal on how you're wired. If he's happy with a mere $144 million (for now, with more to come assuming reasonable health) well I can't say he's wrong.
   74. Ziggy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4679464)
Not that I'm saying that Trout would eat caviar. Even in LA they look down on cannibals.
   75. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4679466)
OK. How many major league baseball players have been crippled or killed in a car accident in the past 30 years? We'll even include boating accidents and plane crashes.

I can think of at least 5 off the top of my head. Out of a small pool.
   76. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:09 PM (#4679468)

OK. How many major league baseball players have been crippled or killed in a car accident in the past 30 years? We'll even include boating accidents and plane crashes.


Recent player deaths:
Steve Olin and Tim Crews, 1993
Cliff Young, 1993
Gus Polidor, 1995
Mike Sharperson, 1996
Jose Oliva, 1997
Brian Cole, 2001
Mike Darr, 2002
Darryl Kile 2002
Dernell Stenson, 2003
Mario Encarnacion, 2005
Cory Lidle 2006
Josh Hancock, 2007
Joe Kennedy 2007
Geremi Gonzalez, 2008
Nick Adenhart, 2009
Greg Hallman, 2011
   77. Brian Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4679470)
actually, Adenhart wasn't even in MLB


Double actually, he was.
   78. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4679481)
But it's also worth emphasizing that, so far in his (short, but not negligible) career, Trout has been THE VERY BEST POSITION PLAYER IN HISTORY. No exaggeration there, no one has ever been this good this young
Which should tell you one of two things:

1. We're lucky enough to see the very best player in MLB history.
2. He's going to regress, at least a bit.

Which is more likely?
   79. Ziggy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4679492)
I already admitted the regression bit. I agree that he's not likely to be a 10 win player going forward. The point is just that he's so extraordinarily good that no reasonable aging curve (short of unlikely crippling accidents) was going to prevent him from securing enough money to last him the rest of the his life.
   80. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4679493)

1. We're lucky enough to see the very best player in MLB history.


Only if he takes up pitching...
   81. GuyM Posted: April 04, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4679511)
See, this is just crazy talk. There have been 55 10 bWAR seasons in MLB history; only 3 players have more than 3 such seasons.

There were probably more of these seasons in the past than indicated by the B-Ref WAR stats. Given the different methodologies used to measure fielding in earlier periods, it was much harder to put up 20+ fielding runs (as Trout did his first year). If we look at the 356 seasons since 1901 with 50 or more hitting runs, 38% of these have come since 1980. But when you look at the 306 seasons with 20+ fielding runs, 58% of these have come since 1980. It might be that Mays, for example, would have had more 10 WAR seasons if his fielding were measured by play-by-play data.

Only if he takes up pitching...

I don't see why people attach such significance to the fact that Ruth was a good pitcher for a short time. He had two very good seasons at a pitcher, but clearly was in decline when he changed positions. If he had played as an outfielder from age 20 to 23, and added four more 10-win seasons as a position player, would he really have been a less great player? Why?
   82. Nasty Nate Posted: April 04, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4679516)
If he gets killed in a car accident, he (his family) doesn't get salary from future years either way, right?
   83. GregD Posted: April 04, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4679526)
If he gets killed in a car accident, he (his family) doesn't get salary from future years either way, right?
I don't think he does, right?

What if he's so injured he literally cannot play? Like in a wheelchair? Does he get salary?

If not, then he's insured himself against decline or bad but not life-threatening injury but not insured himself against the death or catastrophic injury scenarios played out above.
   84. Nasty Nate Posted: April 04, 2014 at 04:53 PM (#4679543)
What if he's so injured he literally cannot play? Like in a wheelchair? Does he get salary?

Yes I think so.
If not, then he's insured himself against decline or bad but not life-threatening injury but not insured himself against the death or catastrophic injury scenarios played out above.

The only way to be insured against death is to literally do so by getting life insurance.

But if he dies this afternoon, it wouldn't make any difference whether he was in a long-term deal or going year to year.
   85. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 04, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4679546)
Car accidents that cripple you are pretty rare. Anecdotes and all, but I can only think of two players in MLB history (actually, Adenhart wasn't even in MLB) to suffer career-ending car accidents.


I think what is much more common is a career altering accident- off the top of my head, 2 Yankee short stops, Andre Robertson and D'Angelo Jimenez were injured in car crashes that while not career "ending" severely impacted their playing ability/career lengths.

There was also a Met a few years ago whom I can't recall whose playing ability was impacted by a taxi crash
   86. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 05:44 PM (#4679574)
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/03/28/295711678/-292m-for-baseballs-miguel-cabrera-lets-dig-into-that-number

Article on Cabrera's recent contract. Sure sounds like he gets paid if he dies, but not entirely clear.

Q: What if Cabrera is injured while training or playing?

A: He's still owed his money.

Q: What if a player dies before his contract is finished?

A: Teams purchase insurance to offset the amounts they still owe. There are also, though, provisions in players' contracts that bar them from pursuing certain dangerous activities and could relieve a team of its responsibility to pay if a player dies doing one of those things.
   87. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 05:44 PM (#4679576)
I don't see why people attach such significance to the fact that Ruth was a good pitcher for a short time. He had two very good seasons at a pitcher, but clearly was in decline when he changed positions. If he had played as an outfielder from age 20 to 23, and added four more 10-win seasons as a position player, would he really have been a less great player? Why?


He wasn't in decline; he started fewer games because he was playing the outfield more.

He was a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher when he pitched. If you are talking about the most capable baseball player, somebody who demonstrates 100% of baseball skills at a high level (or 66% if you break out catching as a separate skillset) is going to be more capable than somebody with 50% of baseball skills.
   88. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4679579)
http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/cba_english.pdf

2012-2016 CBA has some language in it. It sounds like the club insures your life in order to cover the salary it has to continue to pay the player after death, although the insurance is somewhat limited. For some reason I can't cut and paste, search the document for "death".
   89. Nasty Nate Posted: April 04, 2014 at 05:50 PM (#4679580)
Q: What if a player dies before his contract is finished?

A: Teams purchase insurance to offset the amounts they still owe. There are also, though, provisions in players' contracts that bar them from pursuing certain dangerous activities and could relieve a team of its responsibility to pay if a player dies doing one of those things.


That answer seems to suggest that they still have to pay the contract. It would have been clearer if it just stated that they still had to pay, and to whom the money goes.
   90. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 04, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4679583)
Also, a guaranteed contract that is guaranteed for every reason other than death creates a perverse incentive for the teams. The Yankees would probably have had ARod killed by now. Or taken to the glue factory.

   91. Sunday silence Posted: April 04, 2014 at 07:36 PM (#4679644)
I dont understand the reasoning that players who compile an extremely high WAR in their first two years are somehow in a different pool of risk, than ordinary, say above average MLBers.

You dont do a study on possible risks of losing your career and base it on 15 guys with comparable WARs. There are thousands of guys with above average MLB skills to use for your data set who are comparable IN TERMS OF RISK of career impacting injury.

Even the limited list you provide in post 56, ther are what 16 data pts?

At least two of those guys suffered injuries that impacted their potential before age 30: Kaline and Conigliaro.

There's also an issue w/ Magee although presumably, gambling or whatever it was would not happen today, then we really dont know if he would have stayed at that level. Also Hornsby tailed off a lot by age 30, Cepeda did at some point, so did Vaughan. I am not sure about McGinnis or Stanton.

Let's say it amounts to 3 careers impacted. 3/16 is what about 20%.

20% is way too significant to me to risk being set for life. I would take the risk averse path.
   92. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 04, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4679656)

At least two of those guys suffered injuries that impacted their potential before age 30: Kaline and Conigliaro.

To be fair, Trout would only have to last until he's 25. At that point he's a free agent. That said, any time a player signs a multi-year contract, he reduces risk and theoretically leaves some money on the table in exchange.

He probably doesn't spend 144 in his lifetime anyway. Anything on top of that is how much he wants to give to his family, charities, or the government through the death tax. Imagine having more money than you can spend in a lifetime before your 23rd birthday. Pretty amazing.

True (leaving aside the fact that his take-home pay is a lot less than $144 million, of course), but you can make that argument if he had signed for $100 million, too. There's some discount too big, at which he needs to be prepared to walk away in order to keep the Angels honest -- after all they are getting substantial value here too.
   93. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 04, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4679662)
Trout's homered tonight. I'm predicting a 40-40 season for him. Can you imagine what his value would be if he went 40-40, THEN started his long-term negotiations? $144.5 is plenty of money and good all around, but for the Angels it's a terrific bargain.
   94. Ron J2 Posted: April 04, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4679721)
#87 Of course he was in decline. Just look at the K rates.

The number of pitchers who were worked as hard as Ruth at his age and went on to a HOF career are very small. And the number with below league average K rates are zero.

And then there's the whole issue of the spitball. If he'd been one of the designated spitballers in 1920 then a career like Stan Coveleski is plausible albeit not that likely. Without being designated, forget it.

And yes, he threw the spitter. By 1919 everybody did --unless they threw a shine ball or an emery ball.
   95. Tom T Posted: April 04, 2014 at 11:38 PM (#4679753)
And the number with below league average K rates are zero.


I'm not sure I quite see this. In 1917 --- the last year in which Ruth was clearly a "pitcher", his K/9 rate was 3.5 against a league average of 3.3.

In 1918 he's playing in 95 games, but only pitched in 20 of them...that's not a "pitcher". Additionally, he was clearly the #1 starter in '17 but was just as clearly the #3/#4 in '18 (and his K-rate matched that of fellow #3/#4, Sad Sam Jones).

Beyond 1919, he's clearly a position player pitching...and while not doing great, he's also not stinking up the joint as badly as some do today.

So, the argument appears to boil down to his "subpar" performances in 1918-1919 when his overall record looks like something that basically ceased to exist in...what...the 1800s? I don't think we have a terribly good idea what that SHOULD look like...but I'd wager that very few players could do anywhere near as well on the mound as Ruth did when not focusing on pitching.

I mean, today (well, in the last few decades...), if you are Jose Canseco, is it really a good idea to go all-out pitching if you are anticipating being in the lineup every single day?

So...why would it have been a good idea for Ruth to have gone all-out pitching in '18-'19 if it was pretty clear the transition to everyday player was likely? And note that it truly WAS likely...he pitched relatively sparingly in '18 until August, when he pitched 8 games (going 6-2...and also having his best K/9 rate for the season). In '19, he seems to have started out in a fully-mixed role, but that ends in July...yeah, not a great year, but, again, how many everyday players are going to do anything worth spit if put on the mound on a regular basis?
   96. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 05, 2014 at 12:00 AM (#4679767)
There was also a Met a few years ago whom I can't recall whose playing ability was impacted by a taxi crash

I think that was Ambiorix Burgos. His career was negatively impacted by about 50 off-field things, 49 of which were his fault.

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