February 24, 2014
Angels, Mike Trout in talks about six-year, $150 million extension
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
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
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.