Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are discussing a six-year, $150 million contract extension that could keep the star outfielder in Anaheim through his first two years of free agent eligibility, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Passan reports that the two sides are still negotiating and that "the gap between the sides is in the low eight figures," with the team offering just over $140 million.
In his first two years in the majors, the 22-year-old Trout has established himself as arguably the best player in the game. He has hit a combined .324/.416/.560 (174 OPS+) with 57 home runs and 82 stolen bases over those two seasons while serving as a human highlight reel in center field. He also won the Rookie of the Year in 2012 and finished as a highly contested runner-up to Miguel Cabrera for the AL MVP award in both years. He led the majors in bWAR in each of the last two seasons, and his cumulative total of 20.1 bWAR in 2012-2013 is by far the most in the majors; Robinson Cano comes in a distant second with a total of 16.1.
However, Trout only has two years of MLB service time, meaning that he is not yet eligible for arbitration and can't become a free agent until after the 2017 season. He earned about $500,000 in each of his first two campaigns, and the team could simply renew his pre-arbitration contract for 2014 at around $1 million. Instead, the Angels are considering taking the long view on their young superstar by locking him up early and keeping him happy.
One of the themes of the offseason has been teams signing their young stars to long-term extensions before they hit free agency. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw scored the biggest haul with a seven-year, $215 million deal that bought out his final year of arbitration eligibility, the Reds inked Homer Bailey to a $105 million contract and the Braves have locked up several players on their team including Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, and Andrelton Simmons. Such deals can favor teams because they prevent them from having to bid against other clubs on the open market, but they do include a fair amount of risk; the performances of young players can be difficult to predict due to the inherent lack of a long, established track record.
If signed, Trout's deal may fall short of being the largest ever given to a player with fewer than three years of service time. Giants catcher Buster Posey inked a nine-year, $164 contract prior to the 2013 season, but Trout's proposed pact would trump Posey's in annual value. Carlos Gonzalez (7/$80M) and Hanley Ramirez (6/$70M) own the next-largest contracts given to pre-arbitration players. If Trout's deal ends up being six years, then he would hit free agency entering his age-28 season and would be primed to sign another massive contract. If he continues to play like he has thus far in his career, his next deal could potentially set an all-time record.
Although details of the proposed contract are not yet public, and the terms are still under negotiation, Passan offers the following estimate for what the salary breakdown could look like:
2014: $2 million salary and $10 million signing bonus
2015: $13 million salary
2016: $22 million salary
2017: $30 million salary
2018: $35 million salary
2019: $38 million salary
Yes, that number next to 2019 says $38 million.