Mike Trout Rumors
The Angels and Mike Trout will enter negotiations about a multiyear contract this spring with the hopes that a deal will be reached shortly after Opening Day, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. Since Trout is still a year away from arbitration eligibility, the Halos could renew his contract for slightly more than the league minimum (as they did last year, with some controversy), though Trout would get a lot more money in his pocket immediately due to a signing bonus from a new extension.
Though the Angels control Trout through the 2017 season, an extension would give them some cost certainty through his three arbitration years, which seem likely to reach record levels. The Halos would surely look to cover at least a couple of Trout's free agent years in an extension, and agent Craig Landis of LSW Baseball could easily ask for at least $25MM for each of his client's free agent years.
The financial terms are mind-boggling for a 22-year-old player who has only 336 Major League games to his name, yet Trout's performance has justified such an inflated price tag. Trout hit .324/.416/.560 with 57 homers in 2012-13, and factoring in his speed (82 steals in 94 attempts) and outfield defense, Trout has accounted for a league-best 20.8 WAR in that span, according to Baseball Reference. If Trout and the Angels are looking for an extension in the range of nine or 10 seasons, such a deal could quite possibly eclipse Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $275MM contract with the Yankees as the most expensive contract in baseball history.
The career of the Rays' Tim Beckham, who was the first overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, hasn't gone as planned, but Beckham finally did make it to the Majors at the tail end of the 2013 season. 2014, though, may turn out to be a lost year for him, as he tore his ACL in his right knee, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times notes (on Twitter). Beckham, who turns 24 in January, hit .276/.342/.387 in 522 plate appearances at Triple-A Durham last season. Here are more notes from around the American Legaue.
- Yankees president Randy Levine's recent comments about Mike Trout and the Angels displeased Major League Baseball, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. In reference to Robinson Cano's ten-year contract with the Mariners, Levine said, "If Mike Trout was here, I’d recommend the 10-year contract. But for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense." That led MLB to investigate whether Levine's comments broke any rules regarding tampering with another team's players. Levine says he called Angels president John Carpino to apologize, and he considers the matter settled.
- The Orioles are still negotiating with free-agent closer Grant Balfour, but Balfour wants three years and the Orioles only want to give him two, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. The Orioles indicate that they are willing to look elsewhere to fill their closer job if they can't find common ground with Balfour.
- The Orioles discussed a big-league deal with Jason Kubel's agency, Wasserman Media Group, MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko reports. Kubel ended up signing a minor-league deal with the Twins, however, and Kubatko suggests that's because Kubel is very confident he'll make the team in Minnesota (Twitter links).
- After adding Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, the Mariners still want to add a starting pitcher, a reliever and another catcher, MLB.com's Greg Johns reports. They'd like to add relief help to offset the departure of Carter Capps, who headed to the Marlins in the Morrison trade, and they're looking for a catcher because they have just two, Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre, on their 40-man.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff have narrowed their list of possible selections for the first pick in this year's Rule 5 Draft to roughly 10 players, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One possibility on their list is Pirates right-hander Zack Thornton. The 25-year-old pitched to a 2.63 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 across three levels in 2013, topping out at Triple-A. Here's more out of the AL West in the midst of the calm before the storm that is the Winter Meetings...
- Two general managers told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that they wouldn't part with Taijuan Walker in a package to land David Price (Twitter link). Last week, it was reported that the Mariners could push for Price but that Walker would need to be included in any trade.
- The Mariners have received a lot of interest in Dustin Ackley, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. As Heyman notes, Ackley had a solid finish to his 2013 season, batting .290/.360/.412 over his final 65 contests.
- Heyman also tweets that the Mariners' targets include David Price, Nelson Cruz, Joaquin Benoit and Corey Hart. Hart was drafted by General Manager Jack Zduriencik when Zduriencik was with the Brewers.
- The record for the highest payout through the arbitration process is $10MM, but one person familiar with the process tells Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that Angels outfielder Mike Trout could get $15MM in his first go 'round through arbitration, $20MM in his second year, and $25MM in his third trip through the process. Even for a star of Trout's caliber, those numbers seem lofty.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Jerry Dipoto is plotting the Angels' future, even though, after a very disappointing 2013 season, it's unclear whether he'll still be around to see his plans bear fruit, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. "I'm not going to get into it," says Dipoto when asked about his future. "I don't want to have this conversation." DiGiovanna notes that, although there's been buzz for months about the possibility of either Dipoto or manager Mike Scioscia leaving after the season, it looks increasingly possible that both could stay. Dipoto says that he will be looking for "young, controllable starting pitching," and DiGiovanna implies that one way of acquiring it would be to trade Howie Kendrick or Mark Trumbo. Here are more notes on the Angels.
- The Angels appear unlikely to extend a qualifying offer to Jason Vargas, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The team will already be close to the luxury-tax threshold of $189MM, and Gonzalez notes that if Vargas took the qualifying offer of around $14MM, the Angels would "basically already be over budget." Vargas has posted a 4.01 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 143 2/3 innings in 2013.
- The luxury tax is an obstacle to signing Mike Trout to an extension, Gonzalez writes. The luxury tax is calculated based on the average annual value of the players on a team's 40-man roster. So, Gonzalez notes, if the Angels were to sign Trout to a ten-year, $300MM deal, $30MM per year would count toward the luxury tax, even if the contract is backloaded. Without an extension, Trout will again make near the league minimum in 2014.
Mike Scioscia is as committed as ever to the Angels, the manager tells MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom. Scioscia discusses such topics as his relationship with GM Jerry Dipoto and owner Arte Moreno, his frustrations over the Angels' disappointing season and things he'd like to change on the team in 2014.
- The Angels will look to add starting pitching to next year's roster, with an eye towards obtaining young arms, if possible. "Really what we need is organizational starting pitching. We need starting-pitching depth; we need options from within," Dipoto said. "We need young, controllable starting pitching. Essentially guys that when something goes wrong at the Major League level -- inevitably an injury will occur, somebody's going to struggle for a period of time -- guys that can step in and guys that you can build toward. It's gold in the game."
- Third base will be an area of concern for the team this winter. "In an ideal world, we’ll come up with what we believe is a combination of players" to play the position, Dipoto said. Chris Nelson, Grant Green, Luis Jimenez and Andrew Romine are some of the Halos' current third base options.
- Dipoto will look to add bullpen depth but Ernesto Frieri is expected to continue closing.
- Dipoto offered no comment on any extension talks with Mike Trout, though "obviously, we'd like him to be here long-term." Craig Landis, Trout's agent, said yesterday that there have been no negotiations of a multiyear contract with the team. Trout is under team control through the 2017 season and Dipoto declined to comment on whether the team had altered its policy on pre-arbitration contracts given the controversy surrounding Trout's 2013 salary.
- Dipoto didn't comment on whether or not the Angels would non-tender Tommy Hanson or Jerome Williams. Hanson is a "slam-dunk" to be non-tendered, Gonzalez opines (Twitter links), but Williams is a tougher decision since he could return to Japan rather than re-sign with the Angels at a lower price, plus the team likes his "flexibility" as a swingman. Hanson is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility while Williams is entering his third.
Mike Trout is arguably baseball's greatest value at a salary of $510K, but the time will come when the Angels will have fork over a whole lot more to keep him long-term. However, that time might not be this offseason as agent Craig Landis says that things are still status quo, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
“I'll answer one question on contract talks — there have been no discussions,” said Landis. “Obviously, Mike's future is extremely bright. We'll be patient. Mike's a young guy. However it goes, he's going to make a lot of money and be a great player.”
For his part, Trout says that he loves playing with the Angels but he also feels that it's time to go house shopping and he'd like to know if he'll be buying in southern California or elsewhere. Some still fear that there is lingering resentment between Trout and the Halos for his salary this season and while they can name a better price in 2014, he'll be eligible for arbitration the following year. The 22-year-old is scheduled to hit the open market after the 2017 campaign.
Trout followed up his Rookie of the Year winning performance in 2012 with even stronger offensive production this season. The center fielder owns a .324/.431/.557 slash line with 26 homers in 698 plate appearances.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that there are several top teams that will have surpluses in certain areas this offseason that will be second guessing whatever move they make. In the case of the Dodgers, they have four strong outfielders in Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford. One would imagine that Ethier, who is frequently in trade rumors, would be the one to go, but GM Ned Colletti could also give some thought to dealing Kemp if the right offer comes along. Here's more from today's column..
- After bouncing back from a slow start, catcher Carlos Ruiz is desirable again and the Phillies are more enthused about the idea of re-signing him. That may prove to be difficult once Ruiz gets to the open market as he’d be a cheaper alternative to Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia and more consistent than Dioner Navarro.
- According to Mike Napoli's agent Brian Grieper, there still haven't been contract talks with the Red Sox. It appears they will play it out and decide about a qualifying offer. One possibility is that they put Xander Bogaerts at third and Will Middlebrooks at first, taking Napoli out of the equation.
- Tim Hudson, 38, wants to return from the ankle fracture he suffered in July. Hudson, who should cleared for baseball activities by mid-December, will be a free agent but wants to stay in Atlanta. It'll come down to the money for the veteran, who earned $9MM this season.
- Grady Sizemore tried to get back playing this season, but he needs more time for his knees to heal. He'll likely be ready for a major league camp next spring and work out for teams this offseason to show he’s healthy. If he looks OK, he’ll probably get a few teams interested.
- Some still believe that it was a mistake for the Angels to only pay Mike Trout $510K this season and that he won't forget it when it comes time to work out a new deal with the club.
In his article today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports took on several important issues facing the disappointing Angels. Here are some notes from the piece, which is worth a read in its entirety. (There is some interesting stuff on former Angel Zack Greinke's hot stove views.)
- It is not difficult to argue that Angels center fielder Mike Trout is the most valuable player in the game today, given his stellar production and bargain salary. His unmatched output-to-cost ratio is especially important to a club that is still in the early stages of dealing with two of baseball's most troublesome deals. While the Angels could simply choose to sit back and enjoy Trout at the league minimum for another season, Rosenthal says the organization needs to be thinking of his future cost.
- After all, when Trout reaches arbitration in 2015, he will almost certainly be paid more than any other first-time arb-eligible player in history. And the cost will only go up from there. As Rosenthal notes, a likely arbitration salary in excess of $10MM will give Trout immediate financial security, making an extension less enticing. While the team could try and dangle a long-term deal before Trout reaches arbitration eligibility, it may be hard pressed to commit the kind of salary needed, particularly given the massive outlays already owed Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. With Trout set to reach free agency at the tender age of 26, he might well elect to take arbitration year-to-year and wait out a historic contract on the open market.
- With the Halos well into a second consecutive season of angst, Rosenthal wonders who among the team's leadership might be sent packing. With GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia reportedly not on the same page, one or both could certainly lose their jobs. Rosenthal says Dipoto is more likely to go, given the poor performance of recent acquisitions. (Under Dipoto's watch, Rosenthal notes, the team has wasted resources on pitchers Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, and Ryan Madson.) On the other hand, says Rosenthal, Scioscia has failed to deliver the kind of "crisp, aggressive teams" that he once did.
MVP awards are supposed to be based on a player's value to his team, but voters don't ordinarily take contract considerations into account, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes. If they did, Passan says the Angels' Mike Trout, who is making just $510K this year compared to Miguel Cabrera's $21MM, would likely win the AL MVP this year. The next-most-valuable player, when considering performance and salary, would be Matt Harvey, who is making $499K. Of course, players like Cabrera and Clayton Kershaw, who have higher salaries but also provide spectacular performance, are still extremely valuable even after factoring in their contracts. But Passan quotes Padres analyst Chris Long, who makes a distinction between value (that is, the degree to which a player outperforms his salary) and mere performance. Most MVP debates only consider the latter. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says that he believes fewer players are being placed on waivers than last August, and that more players are being claimed, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review tweets. That might suggest it will be difficult for the Pirates, and perhaps other teams as well, to pull off August trades.
- GM Rick Hahn has the White Sox on the right course, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago writes. Hayes argues that Hahn's trading has added high-level prospects (particularly Avisail Garcia, acquired from the Tigers in the Jake Peavy deal) and depth (in the form of the other three prospects acquired from the Red Sox in the same deal). Hahn also cleared salary by trading Peavy, Alex Rios, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain. "Although this wasn’t how we wanted to spend the July and August trading periods, overall we are pleased with both the return talent-wise as well as the flexibility created by the deals," says Hahn.
- With their trades, the White Sox cleared $10.7MM in salary in 2013 and $27MM in 2014, Baseball America's Matt Eddy notes. Eddy has compiled a list of what each team traded at the deadline, and what it received in return.
Angels star outfielder Mike Trout has the most trade value of any player in Major League Baseball, according to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. That opinion is certainly hard to dispute given Trout's incredible performance level and team control, even though we are unlikely to see Trout's trade value tested on the market any time soon. The more interesting question with respect to Trout is what it might cost the Angels should they approach his agent, LSW Baseball, in a bid to lock up the 21-year-old to a long-term deal. Certainly, you should read the entirety of Cameron's trade value series if you have not already. (Links to to the full series are found at the above link.) Trout may be an easy call at the pole position, but the list is (as it should be) ripe for debate. I'd venture that Yadier Molina (#11) and Yasiel Puig (#24) are among the two biggest surprises on the high side, though Cameron certainly has insightful and interesting reasons for their placement.
In honor of the young Mr. Trout, let's take a look around the AL West:
- In case you were wondering, there were no substantial developments overnight on the prospective deal that would have delivered Matt Garza to the Rangers. Click here to get up to speed on where things ended last night. As we wait to see what direction that situation is headed, it is worth your time to take a look at this piece from Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs discussing why, exactly, the Rangers are pursuing Garza in the first place.
- The Mariners continue to be a fascinating team to watch as the trade deadline approaches. While Seattle has no realistic postseason prospects at this point, the club has performed well of late and appears to be loath to part with its more obvious trade assets. The team has several attractive veterans on short-term contracts that could be exchanged for minor league depth. On the other hand, a push for a .500 record could energize the fan base and help spur the development of its young core players, making the second half more important than one might expect for a club in this position. This piece from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times breaks down the decisions facing the club.
- For instance, GM Jack Zduriencik might prefer to make Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer next year rather than trade him now. Likewise, the M's could hang onto Raul Ibanez given his high standing in Seattle. Indeed, that would be Ibanez's apparent preference. He told reporters, including Stone, that while he does want to play for a contender, he doesn't see why that can't happen in Seattle. In fact, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Mariners have shown "zero indication" that key veterans like Morales and Ibanez will be made available.
- Trade talks on Astros starter Bud Norris -- the consensus choice for top controllable starter available -- are heating up, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Though he does not offer details on actual trade talks, Crasnick says (on Twitter) that several teams could make sense as destinations for Norris, including the Giants, Indians, Nationals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Pirates, and Rangers.