Trout, 22, made $510,000 in 2013, just $20,000 above the MLB minimum, and will be under team control again in 2014. Trout won't be eligible for salary arbitration until the 2015 season and won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2017 campaign. Per DiGiovanna:
There's a good chance the Angels will renew Trout's contract again in March, but it won't have the sting of last spring's renewal because it will be done amid negotiations for a multiple-year extension that is expected to make Trout one of baseball's highest-paid players.
The sides hope to reach a deal after the season starts.
Trout hit .323/.432/.557 with 39 doubles, 27 home runs and 33 stolen bases in 157 games for the Angels in 2013, and led the American League in runs scored (109) and walks (110). In his two full MLB seasons, Trout has made two All-Star teams, captured two Silver Slugger awards, and finished second in MVP voting twice (losing both awards to the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera).
The record salary for a first-time arbitration-eligible player is $10 million, earned by Ryan Howard of the Phillies in 2008 after winning the NL MVP award in 2006. Howard through 2007 hit .291/.397/.610, a 155 OPS+, with 129 home runs in 353 RBI in 410 games.
With a year to go before he is eligible for arbitration, Trout has hit .314/.404/.554, a 166 OPS+, with 62 home runs and 196 RBI in 336 games. But factoring in Trout's outfield defense and base running (86 steals in 98 career attempts), he already leads Howard in Wins Above Replacement (per Baseball-Reference.com), 20.8 to 11.5.
But whether Trout beats Howard's record, the Angels outfielder is closing in on a huge payday through his three arbitration seasons. So it's understandable the Angels would like to get some cost certainty through those seasons, while possibly at the same time buying out some free agent years for Trout.
For Trout, who has earned slightly over $2 million in his career to date including his draft signing bonus in 2009, a long-term deal can give him financial security while at the same time allowing him to hit the free agent market again at a relatively young age, heading into his age-29 season were he to sign a seven-year contract, for instance.