The Millville Meteor was shooting for the stars and a potential $150 million contract for his historic production over his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. If not for the prolific hitting mastery of Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout who’s entering his third MLB season, would already be a two-time MVP.
He’s certainly played well enough so that windfall of cash is sure to come – probably within the next couple of months. But in the meantime the 23-year-old phenom’s string of breaking records on the field and in between the numbers remains intact as the Angels awarded the multi-talented outfielder a one-year, $1 million contract, the most lucrative contract in baseball history for a player not eligible for arbitration. The previous high for a pre-arbitration player who was going year to year with his club was $900,000, attained by Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in 2007 and then-Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.
The Angels didn’t have to lace Trout so generously, but the contract is a good-faith gesture, while the sides negotiate a six-year contract extension with Trout, which should pay him at least $145 million through 2020, according to reports.
"For Arte and the Angels going out of their way like they did...they could have easily paid me the league minimum or whatever, Trout said in an ESPN interview with Karl Ravech and John Kruk on Thursday... "I’m just happy where I'm at.. I’m healthy...There will be a chance to make more."
It’s a significant raise from the $510,000 Trout made last season when he was unanimously considered the most underpaid stud in the game. In 2013, instead of blessing the youngster, the Angels played small ball with the five-tool phenom and renewed his $482,500 rookie contract for just $20,000 above the major league minimum.
Trout didn't say much because he has less than three years of MLB service and he knows his time will come. And being that the reserved Derek Jeter was his idol and Trout says he pattened his approach to the game after the legendary shortstop, agent Craig Landis was left to do the media-barking:
“In my opinion, this contract falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract,” Landis said in a statement last March. “And I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process.”
Team Trout was singing a different song on Wednesday, and any major money contract Trout signs during spring training or before this season ends will only be the tip of the iceberg for baseball’s most coveted entity. The contract will end with Trout still in his prime (younger than 30) and eligible for another huge contract. Maybe even a run at A-Rod’s 10-year $275 million deal he signed with The Bronx Bombers in 2007.
So now that everybody is feeling Pharrellish, Angels owner Arte Moreno can focus on his high-priced squad that lost 84 games in 2013 and was a laughing stock.
Josh Hamilton is still healing and Albert Pujols seems to officially be on the decline, but the top of the rotation is nasty with Jered Weaver and C.J Wilson. The bullpen, led by Ernesto Frieri and Joe Smith, should be able to put the clamp on opponents late in ballgames.
“We will definitely compete “Trout said. “Our offense will be there. We’re going to have to pitch. With a couple of the new additions to the bullpen… we’re going to compete."
Trout is the one consistent superstar the Angels have. He’s the future. They could have renewed his contract for a mere $550,000 but you don’t play Russian Roulette with a meteor. Besides, a Hollywood-scripted career like Trout’s belongs in LA.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto is hip to that.
"Honestly, because I think we felt like his performance was exceptional, there are players that force you to break a rule, and what Trout just did for two consecutive years forced us to break our own rule,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said of Trout's new contract.” There's nothing in the game that's hard and fast. We felt like his performance certainly merited treating him differently than the others."
With the rebirth of a loaded Dodgers squad favored by Vegas to win the World Series and the back pages of the newspapers, Trout is the great celebrity neutralizer. The Dodgers have a bunch of awesome players, but the Angels have the best in the game. After all of the shaky money they've thrown around, penny-pinching Trout is not an option.