Mike Trout Rumors
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.
The Angels' $510K renewal of Mike Trout's contract for 2013 has made minor news this week. Now FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that Trout's agent, Craig Landis, has suggested his client wanted a $1M contract for 2013. Since Trout is a pre-arbitration eligible player and does not have a long-term deal, the Angels were not obligated to pay him any more than the league minimum salary of $490K, despite Trout's exceptional 2012 performance. One source tells Rosenthal the Angels did not negotiate the deal at all. Another tells him that the Angels initially offered Trout a contract of more than $510K, but Trout did not accept it, and the Angels gave him the $510K contract as punishment. In any case, as Rosenthal suggests, the mini-controversy over Trout's 2013 salary will quickly vanish into history if the two sides can agree on a long-term deal. And, of course, salaries near the league minimum are routine for pre-arbitration eligible players, even spectacular ones. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Blue Jays' offseason acquisitions of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey have put the squeeze on several Jays pitchers, including J.A. Happ, who no longer has much of a shot at a rotation job. Nonetheless, Happ continues to prepare for the season as a starter, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. "Right now I'm focused on being a starter, building up and doing what I've done in the past," says Happ. Happ could win a job in the bullpen, or he could wind up in the rotation at Triple-A Buffalo, even though he will earn $3.7MM this year.
- Third baseman Eric Chavez, now with the Diamondbacks, says he needed to leave the Athletics organization behind after suffering numerous injuries in his last seasons there, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Chavez left the A's after the 2010 season, and signing a minor-league deal with the Yankees gave him a chance to "restart everything" by escaping from expectations established early in his career in Oakland. Chavez hit .281/.348/.496 in a successful 2012 campaign in New York, leading to a one-year, $3MM major-league deal with Arizona for 2013.
In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required), Buster Olney lists the Angels renewing Mike Trout's contract for $510K as one of the biggest issues facing baseball today. Craig Landis, the agent for the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up, said the renewal "falls well short of a 'fair' contract." Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register agrees considering Joe Blanton will receive a $500K bonus from the Angels if he throws 200 innings and the team gave a $250K signing bonus to free agent reliever Sean Burnett. Olney, however, writes it makes almost no sense for Trout to refuse to sign his contract tender and have a negotiation flare-up so early in his career because he will reap millions from the system later on. For his part, the 21-year-old is quoted by Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) as saying, "I've got to keep putting up numbers. My time will come." Elsewhere from MLB's West Divisions:
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports the Angels don't expect any of this will ruffle enough feathers to sour Trout's desire to sign an extension and cites similar situations involving Adam Jones, Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, David Wright, and Jered Weaver.
- The Diamondbacks renewed Wade Miley's contract for $500,500, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The left-hander earned All-Star honors last year while finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio the team has not closed the door on former closer Brian Wilson (Twitter link).
- The Dodgers will have questions to answer in left field and the leadoff spot because Carl Crawford will likely not be ready to open the season, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Manager Don Mattingly will use a variety of in-house options including Cuban import Yasel Puig.
- If non-roster invitee third baseman Nolan Arenado continues his torrid play during camp and shows he's ready, it could allow the Rockies to use their depth at third base to acquire more pitching, tweets the Denver Post's Troy Renck.
- Cody Ross was disappointed by the lack of interest from West Coast teams during his free agency this offseason until the Diamondbacks called "out of nowhere," reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "My wife and I were jumping up and down," said Ross, a Phoenix resident. "We were so excited to live at home and play at home and be around a good bunch of guys and great coaches, and a front office that’s committed to winning."
- Earlier today, we learned Hunter Pence would rather sign a long-term contract with the Giants rather than test free agency.
One American League executive told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com that he'd be talking to Mike Trout about a "crazy-long deal" if he were running the Angels. Castrovince considers some possible comparables for extension talks, concluding that it probably makes sense for the Angels to wait before extending Trout. His leverage is high right now, even though he's arguably the best bargain in MLB.
Here are some more notes from the AL West...
- The Rangers announced that Jon Daniels has been promoted to president of baseball operations/general manager. Daniels, who became the club's GM in 2005, will still report to CEO Nolan Ryan.
- Daniels told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that he's intent on being more than "the team that used to be good.” The Rangers lost Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Dempster to free agency, but Daniels isn't worried about the transition. “You've got to keep moving forward and not be afraid of change,” Daniels said. The GM explained the importance of depth and noted that being the best team on paper doesn’t guarantee success.
- The Rangers are among the teams still interested in free agent infielder Ryan Theriot, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). However, Theriot continues looking for more playing time.
- Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez recently established a new record for starting pitchers, signing a seven-year, $175MM contract. Hernandez told Heyman that he expects Clayton Kershaw will be the one to break the record because "he's a little younger" than other top pitchers. Hernandez suggested that Justin Verlander "might get the money, but less years.'' The Mariners ace said he helped other pitchers a bit, adding that he won't mind when another pitcher breaks his record.
The Rangers and Nationals are waiting to hear if Nelson Cruz or Gio Gonzalez could face disciplinary action from Major League Baseball due to their possible connection to a clinic that sold performance-enhancing drugs, but though both teams are in limbo with these key players, ESPN's Jim Bowden doesn't think either team will jump quickly to find replacements until more facts are known. As it happens, Bowden says both clubs were already looking to improve in those areas before the news of this PED scandal broke -- the Nats were known to want pitching depth and the Rangers were in need of another power hitter. Bowden suspects the Rangers will make a move for a big bat closer to the trade deadline.
Here are some more items from around the AL West...
- The Angels are close to signing right-hander Hiroyuki Kobayashi to a minor league deal, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter link). Kobayashi, 34, has pitched out of the bullpen for Chiba Lotte and Hanshin for the last three seasons. He last explored a move to MLB when he became a free agent following the 2010 season, when he was linked to the Pirates and Diamondbacks in rumors.
- It wouldn't make sense for the Rangers to sign Michael Bourn to replace Cruz, argues MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, since "a five-year contract to cover a two-month need seems a bit extreme." The Rangers didn't make a big push for a center fielder this winter since they like Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin as CF options.
- The Angels haven't talked to Mike Trout's representatives about an extension for the young star, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports. Trout is under team control through the 2017 season and is still two seasons away from arbitration eligibility. Those arb years will get expensive if Trout continues his superb play but, as Gonzalez notes, big-market clubs like the Angels can afford pricey arbitration payouts and thus don't quite feel the pressure that smaller-market clubs have to lock up their young stars early.
- Casper Wells has turned into something of an afterthought on the Mariners roster and could become trade bait if the M's were to add another outfielder like Bourn, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Wells struggled when given regular at-bats last season and Baker wonders if the club has given up on the player who was "possibly the front-liner" of the trade package the Mariners received in the Doug Fister deal.
What would a contract extension for Mike Trout look like? Though the Angels aren’t currently discussing a long-term deal with their 21-year-old star, it’s a topic that will come up eventually. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports examines the question with the help of MLB agents, executives and players, and hears estimates from $60-250MM, with most suggested deals falling in the $100-150MM range. Check out Passan’s entire piece for a thorough exploration of what it would mean to lock Trout up.
Now for some more links as Wednesday turns into Thursday...
- Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News hears the Mariners and Rangers both prefer power over speed as they look to add offense (Twitter link). Seattle acquired Kendrys Morales on Wednesday.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times that talks about Morales started after texting Angels GM Jerry Dipoto to congratulate him on the Josh Hamilton signing.
- ESPN's Buster Olney speculates (on Twitter) that Justin Smoak could be a fit for the Orioles. Some folks with Baltimore like his swing, and Smoak could be expendable following the Morales pickup.
- Free agent right-hander Brett Myers wants to start again and remains an interesting free agent option in the view of FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link).
- The Rockies are looking to add another reliever, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter). Colorado had interest in Mike Adams before the right-hander signed with the Phillies.
- The Pirates are interested in Rick Porcello, but the Tigers don't want to trade the 23-year-old right-hander straight up for reliever Joel Hanrahan, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (on Twitter).
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
Trout becomes the youngest player in league history to become the AL Rookie of the Year and joins Tim Salmon as the only Rookie of the Year winner in Angels history. He batted an incredible .326/.399/.564 with 30 homers and a league-leading 49 stolen bases in his age-20 season. Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Wei-Yin Chen and Jarrod Parker rounded out the ballot (in that order).
The 19-year-old Harper is the second-youngest National League player to ever win the award behind Doc Gooden. He recovered from an extended slump over the summer with a monstrous final month that pushed his season batting line to .270/.340/.477. He also added 22 homers and 18 stolen bases. Wade Miley, Todd Frazier, Wilin Rosario, Norichika Aoki, Yonder Alonso, Matt Carpenter and Jordan Pacheco rounded out the ballot (in that order). Harper finished with 16 of 32 first-place votes. His 112 points gave him a narrow victory over Miley, who finished with 105 points.
On this day in baseball history in 1941, Joe DiMaggio won his second American League MVP award. The runner-up was Ted Williams, who had batted .406 on the season and lost the award thanks to a writer who left him off the ballot. Here's the latest news and headlines from around the league...
- The American League, more specifically the AL West, served as home this season to a talented crop of rookies beyond just Mike Trout, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com. Hagen points to Yoenis Cespedes, Jesus Montero and Yu Darvish as players who have strong cases that would easily win AL Rookie of the Year any other year, but Trout's not only a finalist for being the top rookie as he looks to take home league MVP as well.
- While the Nationals failed to collect the hardware that comes with winning the World Series, the team's manager, top rookie and ace look to make up for it this week as the BBWAA award winners are announced, says Amanda Comak of The Washington Times. Strangely enough, Washington manager Davey Johnson was fired the same day he last won a Manager of the Year award thanks to a contract dispute with the Orioles back in 1997.
- Count the Indians among the teams interested in pursuing Jason Bay's services, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer in his latest mailbag. Beyond Bay, Hoynes suggests the team could be in play for Melky Cabrera as the pressure-free environment in Cleveland could help him rebound next season.
- Bobby Valentine's future may not take shape in a dugout, but Peter Gammons of MLB.com believes the veteran manager would be an asset to Major League Baseball by working for commissioner Bud Selig.
Mike Trout's outstanding rookie season earned him Baseball America's Rookie of the Year award, but that's not all he won. The publication named Trout the 2012 Player of the Year ahead of Buster Posey, Miguel Cabrera and others. Check out Jerry Crasnick's piece for a more complete look at Trout and continue reading for more of today’s links...
- The Angels have promoted Gary DiSarcina, and the former MLB shortstop will now report to GM Jerry Dipoto as a special assistant, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports. The Angels added a second special assistant to Dipoto, hiring Rays national cross-checker Tim Huff.
- Sandy Alomar Jr. will have a spot as an Indians coach when Terry Francona's staff is officially announced, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports.
- The Rockies seem to be taking Jason Giambi seriously as a managerial candidate and while some executives chuckle at the possibility, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com asks 'why not?'
- The Mets expect catcher Josh Thole to be eligible for arbitration this coming offseason, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $1.2MM salary for the backstop.
Rookie outfielder Mike Trout hit his 30th home run in the opener of the Angels-Rangers doubleheader this afternoon to become the youngest player in MLB history to slug 30 homers and steal 30 bases and the first rookie with a season of 30 homers and 40 steals. Trout is also the first player in MLB history to record 30 home runs, 45 steals, and 125 runs scored in a single season (h/t ESPN, via Twitter). Trout swiped his 48th base in that game and is now just two stolen bases away from joining Barry Bonds and Eric Davis as the only 30/50 players in baseball history. Today's historic performance further fuels the AL MVP debate between Trout and Miguel Cabrera, a debate chronicled by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Elsewhere on the Junior Circuit:
- White Sox manager Robin Ventura had to clarify comments he made about his future yesterday, reports CSNChicago.com's Dan Hayes. Ventura said he was only making a joke when he said he just wanted to get through this season. "I plan on being here for two more years, yes,” Ventura said. “Unless they don’t want me to be here.”
- If the White Sox opt for the $4MM buyout of Jake Peavy's contract rather than exercise the $22MM 2013 option, the right-hander may act as his own agent, reports Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times. Barry Axelrod, Peavy's longtime agent, is no longer able to represent him because Axelrod will be taking a position in the Diamondbacks' front office. For his part, Peavy says he wants to remain with the White Sox, "I love Chicago and this team. I hope we'll be able to work something out."
- The Twins will have to work something out with pitcher Scott Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The club has a $9.25MM team option for 2013 and it seems highly unlikely they'd exercise that and make Baker the team's highest-paid pitcher coming off surgery, writes 1500ESPN.com Phil Mackey. GM Terry Ryan wouldn't say much about Baker's status other than, "If you think he's going to be able to contribute in 2013, the answer is yes (we do have interest)."
- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has a feeling some of his coaching staff won't be back after the team's second consecutive 90-loss season, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Garretson. "I have all the faith that they can do the job, but some of these things aren't going to be left up to me, it's going to be left to ownership and [general manager] Terry [Ryan]," Gardenhire said. "If he thinks change is needed, he's going to talk to the owners and we'll go from there."
- Within the same piece, Bollinger and Garretson confirmed Gardenhire hadn't spoken to Joe Mauer about moving to third base. Gardenhire said he has considered playing Mauer some at third when asked about the possibility during a conference call with season-ticket holders on Thursday.
- The Blue Jays' Darren Oliver is undecided if he will continue playing in 2013, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Oliver says the main deciding factor will be "my two kids and my wife." The Blue Jays hold a $3MM club option on the left-hander, who has posted a 1.78 ERA, 8.4 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9 in 60 relief appearances this year covering nearly 56 innings.
- The Rays ultimately may be known more for not providing enough support to take advantage of one of the best overall pitching performances in recent times; but, there has been a lot accomplished, writes Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin who recounts the good, bad and interesting.
- Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com has obtained an assessment of the Red Sox’s top 20 prospects by pro scouts for another big-league team. The young talent will be needed as Boston lost 90 games for the first time since 1966 after being swept by the Orioles today.
- The Yankees, Rangers and Orioles each clinched a playoff spot on Sunday evening thanks to a Mike Napoli-led Texas victory over the Angels. All three teams remain in the hunt for division titles, but three more regular season games must be played this week before final seeding can be determined. For the Orioles, the return to the playoffs comes after a lengthy absence as Baltimore's last postseason appearance came in 1997.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.