Earlier this month, the Angels renewed the contract of outfield sensation Mike Trout for $510K, $20K over the league minimum. Trout, of course, had an otherworldly campaign, winning Rookie of the Year and finishing second in the AL MVP vote. Baseball's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to set salaries for players who are not yet arbitration eligible, so Trout's agent Craig Landis had no leverage to negotiate.
That didn't stop Landis from issuing a statement, in which he said Trout's salary "falls well short of a 'fair' contract." Trout's season was uncommon, but good players with less than two years of Major League service being renewed is not. This became a news story only because of Landis' statement. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported this week that Landis implied to the Angels that Trout wanted a $1MM salary, which would have topped the $900K the Phillies bestowed upon Ryan Howard after his '06 MVP season.
Some might say the Phillies were foolish for giving Howard $520K above the league minimum in '07, because that gift did not buy enough goodwill to prevent the two sides from going to an arbitration hearing a year later. The same argument could be taken by the Angels, who chose not to make an exception to their service-time based pay scale.
In contrast, a few members of today's Clubhouse Confidential panel at this week's excellent SABR Analytics conference, particularly Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, opined that the Halos should have given Trout the million dollars he reportedly sought. Cameron's stance is that the Angels could have treated the extra $510K as a worthy public relations expenditure. The Angels would have made headlines for their generosity, and setting a precedent for their future zero-to-three players would not be a concern since Trout's situation is so rare. Now, it's your turn to weigh in -- choose the number that you like best.