August 8, 2012
Considering a Trout Extension
Mike Trout is having a season for the ages. That shouldn't be news to you. But let's forget about the present for a second and think about what could be an even more promising future, as terrifying as that sounds. By common thought in the analytical community, Trout is still six to eight years away from his peak, and if you’re the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, you want that peak. That means an extension for the most valuable young asset in the game. If you are the Angels, how do you even approach this? To find out, I talked to a number of scouts and executives to get their take.
Theory No. 1: The Cautious Route
An American League assistant GM noted that Trout's remarkable performance over his three-plus months in the big leagues means you are paying at his absolute peak. “I think they've missed the window to lock him up,” he said. “I know he's not going to suck at any point, but he may at least cool off sometime in the next two years and give you a chance to actually compare him to someone else.” All deals out there are baselines for future deals, and Trout's lack of comparable performances has the potential to create a real problem for the Angels. “Right now, there are no comps and you open the door to any contract number the agent wants to throw out there,” the exec continued. “$100 million isn't crazy right now, but that's kind of the problem.”
Theory No. 2: Fair Market Value
Things get complicated from 2015-17, and Trout's three years of arbitration. For one NL executive, the best comparable for these years might be Phillies slugger Ryan Howard. “Howard went Rookie of the Year, MVP, and then back-to-back top five MVP years and his arbitration numbers were $10 and then $15 million,” he explained. “I know Trout could go higher, but a reasonable guess can't be much more than this.”
But others think it could creep a bit higher, according to one AL official. “He has a chance to set arbitration records since he dominated in the statistical categories arbitrators look at, and he has a chance at some hardware.”