Mike Trout Rumors

Moreno Talks Scioscia, Dipoto, Hamilton, Trout

It's been a disastrous 2013 for the Angels, who sit 10 games below .500 and 11 games out of first place in the AL West. Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke with Bob Nightengale of USA Today regarding his team's slow start. Here are some highlights from the piece…

  • Manager Mike Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto aren't in immediate danger of losing their jobs, though Moreno notes that he will re-evaluate the team in the offseason. Moreno says that he likes Dipoto's analytical systems and still considers Scioscia an elite manager.
  • Moreno says he's never seen anything like the struggles that Josh Hamilton has endured to open the season, however he feels it's too early to judge 32-year-old: "Five years from now, we can sit down, and then ask me about the investment in the man.'' Hamilton, of course, is batting just .207/.262/.378 and has played below replacement level according to both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.
  • Moreno tells Nightengale that he has no buyer's remorse when it comes to the Albert Pujols deal. The opportunity to bring one of the best hitters in the history of the game to Anaheim was a "treat." Pujols hasn't struggled at Hamilton's level, but his .258/.330/.447 batting line and injury problems don't bode well, considering he's owed $212MM from 2014-21.
  • There have yet to be any serious negotiations about Mike Trout, partly because it's so difficult to put a value or dollar amount on his incredible numbers to date.
  • The Halos can opt out of their stadium in 2016 to either have the 50-year-old park refurbished or have a new one constructed. Moreno says that the ideal situation would be to remain in the current Angel Stadium.

How Much Should The Angels Have Paid Mike Trout?

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.

Quick Hits: Trout, Happ, Chavez

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.

West Notes: Trout, D’backs, Wilson, Crawford, Rockies

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.


AL West Notes: Trout, Rangers, Felix

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.

AL West Notes: Kobayashi, Rangers, Trout, Wells

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.

Quick Hits: Rangers, Mariners, Morales, Smoak

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, Harper Win Rookie Of The Year Awards

Angels center fielder Mike Trout and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper have been named AL and NL Rookies of the Year, respectively, the Baseball Writers Association of America has announced.

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.

Last year's honors went to Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel. The BBWAA has posted the full ballots of all voters in both the AL and NL races on its official web site.

Quick Hits: AL Rookies, Nationals, Indians, Valentine

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 CespedesJesus 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.

Quick Hits: Trout, Indians, Giambi, Mets

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…