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February 24, 2014

Rumor Roundup

Extending Trout

by Daniel Rathman

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Angels, Mike Trout in talks about six-year, $150 million extension
Earlier this winter, there was buzz that the Angels might approach Mike Trout about a long-term contract that would guarantee him more money up front, perhaps in exchange for an extra year or two in a Halos uniform. Now, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan has given us a window into what such a contract might look like.

Passan wrote on Sunday that the sides are discussing a six-year, $150 million commitment that would run through Trout’s four remaining years of team control and buy out two years of free agency. Trout would get a signing bonus immediately, giving him a significant raise over his renewed contract and a number of records for players in his service-time class. The downside: He would not be able to test the open market until he’s 28.

If the deal goes down, Passan believes that it might look like this:

With an average annual value of $36.5 million in the free-agent years, the Angels would be paying Trout to be about a six-win player down the road—a strong bet, considering that he’s been worth 8.3 and 9.6 WARP in his first two big-league seasons. Trout would get $12 million (the bulk of it in the form of a $10 million signing bonus) to play with in 2014, and the Angels wouldn’t face the steepest outlays until Josh Hamilton’s deal expires after the 2017 season. Trout and Albert Pujols would cost owner Arte Moreno a combined $65 million in 2018 and $66 million in 2019, when the former’s hypothetical pact would expire.

For what it’s worth, Trout had no comment when asked by beat writers about Passan’s report.

Mariners and Pirates most likely landing spots for Kendrys Morales
On Friday afternoon, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Orioles were actively pursuing both Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales and that one of the two sluggers might land in Baltimore before long. Less than 24 hours later, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman became the first to suggest that Dan Duquette had chosen Cruz, and ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas eventually reported that the sides had come to terms on a one-year, $8 million deal.

That leaves Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew as the two remaining qualified free-agent position players, and for Morales, the Orioles’ signing of Cruz might mean one fewer suitor. Manager Buck Showalter may yet find room in his lineup for both Cruz and Morales, if Duquette and owner Peter Angelos find room in their budget, but it’s more likely at this point that the O’s viewed it as an either-or scenario.

For Morales, that probably means a return to the Mariners—the only club that could sign him without parting with a draft pick—or a move to the Pirates, who have kicked the tires on signing him but, according to Heyman, are still wary of making their interest official. The Pirates have not addressed their first-base situation this offseason after losing Justin Morneau to the Rockies; if the season started today, Gaby Sanchez would split time with either Andrew Lambo or Chris McGuiness.

The Mariners, meanwhile, have already added two 1B/OF/DH types this winter: Corey Hart on a one-year contract and Logan Morrison in a swap with the Marlins for right-hander Carter Capps. But general manager Jack Zduriencik is looking for more lineup reinforcements, and Heyman heard from a source that he prefers Morales to Cruz. The Mariners saw last year that Morales could be productive even in the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field, but they were more skeptical about Cruz, whose production was padded by the hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and who was suspended 50 games for his connections to Biogenesis.

Even if the Mariners have always preferred bringing back Morales, though, that still leaves doubts about how he would fit into a roster already loaded with defensively limited players. Manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters last week that he would like Dustin Ackley to play left field, which means that Hart, Morrison, and Justin Smoak are locked (in some permutation) into first, right, and DH. Zduriencik has run out of patience with former top prospect Jesus Montero, who showed up to camp 40 pounds overweight and is miles behind the competition at first base, the only position to which he could move off of catcher. But adding Morales would give the Mariners at least four players for three spots, which—among other issues—would diminish the versatility of McClendon’s bench.

The Mariners could resolve that glut by trading Smoak in addition to Nick Franklin or Brad Miller, and if the Pirates opt against signing Morales, Neal Huntington might phone Zduriencik to find out the asking price. Morales is not an ideal fit for Pittsburgh, which could do just as well by adding a left-handed-hitting platoon first baseman, because Sanchez has a long track record of success versus southpaws (.319 career TAv). The switch-hitting Morales has almost identical career splits (.301 TAv vs. LHP, .299 vs. RHP), but Smoak, who also bats from both sides, posted a .321 TAv against righties last year, bumping his career mark to .285.

Are the Rangers interested in Ervin Santana? Maybe yes; maybe no
It depends who you ask. Rojas tweeted that Santana’s agent is fielding interest from the Rangers, Orioles, and an unidentified National League West team. But, when asked to comment on the rumors, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News replied that sources have told him the Rangers are not involved.

Santana could make sense for Ron Washington’s club, which has lost Derek Holland for at least the first few months of the season. Holland underwent microfracture surgery earlier this winter, and though he was expected to report to the Rangers’ spring training camp over the weekend, he’s unlikely to toe the rubber before the All-Star break. If the season started today, Texas’ rotation would feature Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando, and either Nick Tepesch or Tommy Hanson. Matt Harrison, who is suffering from back stiffness after collecting more surgeries than big-league starts last year, probably won’t be ready for Opening Day.

Alas, the Rangers appear content to move on with their internal options, leaving agent Bean Stringfellow to explore other suitors—or, according to Rosenthal, to wait until June, when his client will no longer be dogged by his decision to decline the Royals’ qualifying offer.

Rosenthal added on Sunday that Drew and Morales might join Santana in playing the waiting game, possibly until June, but maybe only until after Opening Day. As Rosenthal pointed out, because the collective bargaining agreement states that a player must be with a team for a full season in order to be eligible to receive a qualifying offer, the long-standing trio could stay sidelined until early April to ensure that it won’t suffer the same fate next winter.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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timber

Adam Katz was Ervin Santana's agent for about three months in 2012, after which he went back to Bean Stringfellow, and Stringfellow remains Santana's agent currently.

Feb 24, 2014 08:56 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

Fixed.

Feb 24, 2014 09:08 AM
 
hyprvypr

Strange Trout would allow ANY seasons past his arbitration. If he were able to hit free agency at 26/27 years of age, and he maintained or even improved his current performances, there's really no question he would breech a $400 million contract(over 12-15 years).

I suppose for Trout it's insurance against a Grady Sizemore type career path, but still, these guys want payroll records seemingly more than on field records.

Feb 24, 2014 11:40 AM
rating: 1
 
jrbdmb

But on the other hand, this rumored contact gets him some pocket money now (though it sounds like a lot to us drones, he must be tired of getting $400K a year), protects against catastrophic injury or decline as you mentioned, and still has him hitting free agency at a time where a record setting 10 year deal would be palatable to a lot of teams.

Feb 24, 2014 14:30 PM
rating: 2
 
Pat Folz

Well he has to give the Angels at least a year or two past arbitration, otherwise what incentive do they have to do the deal?

Also, it could be a hedge against the slowing (or collapsing) of the recent salary boom -- I believe very few teams have an RSN contract which expires any time soon, so huge chunks of the revenue stream are locked in now (the Angels' most definitely is). There's also a good chance of some buyers' remorse on a lot of these recent deals -- $100M+ is a LOT for guys like Bailey and Choo who really aren't superstars, in absolute dollar terms, and $240M for a second baseman over 30 is more than a little questionable -- so a high-profile flameout of a 9-digit contract could make teams gunshy. Who knows if they're thinking like that, but I'd think it would be in the back of every agent's mind.

I have more trouble understanding it from the Angels' point of view. Those yearly salaries don't look like they're discounted at all, really, and that's a large chunk of change to only add two years.

Although, at $7-$8M/WARP like we're seeing this year, dude could be "worth" $70M or $80M PER SEASON, at least. Holy crap.......

Feb 25, 2014 02:57 AM
rating: 0
 
cdmyers

Assuming that Morales would sign somewhere eventually, the Mariners do still give up a draft pick if they sign him since they forfeit the pick they'd get from the signing team. They don't know which pick they'd be giving up, and obviously a 3rd round Orioles pick isn't worth all that much, but it is still something.

Unless I don't understand the new system...?

Feb 24, 2014 14:48 PM
rating: 0
 
hyprvypr

I'd like clarification too, maybe even a column(?), to how the new system works.

If Morales doesn't sign back with the M's, my hunch is he waits until June to be signed without the draft pick compensation - and there would probably be 2-3 contenders by then with injuries/lack of performance that would open up 1B/DH slots and a decent 2-3 year deal in the 15-25 million range(8-10 million a year's my guess).

Feb 24, 2014 15:50 PM
rating: 0
 
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