The deal, when completed, will represent the largest contract in professional sports history in terms of total money – blowing away Bryce Harper’s 13-year free-agent deal by a full $100 million – and the biggest in MLB by average annual value.
The Angels got a massive bargain.
After lingering on a slow market until after spring training started, Harper wound up getting less than most expected in free agency. But even using the Phillies’ deal for Harper and the Padres’ 10-year, $300 million pact with Manny Machado as benchmarks, Trout is a steal at $35.833 a year over 12 years, because Trout has simply been way, way better than Harper and Machado both in recent seasons and over the course of their careers.
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Check this out: By Wins Above Replacement, Trout has been worth more than Harper and Machado combined. And though both 2018 free agents are a year younger than the 27-year-old Trout, both have endured at least some inconsistency over the course of their careers. Trout has played seven seasons and finished in the Top 5 of AL MVP voting in all seven, winning the award twice and placing second four times. Machado and Harper have three Top 5 MVP finishes among them, including Harper’s first-place 2015 campaign.
The deal, per Passan’s report, replaces the final two years and $68 million on Trout’s current contract, so it is essentially adds a decade and $362 million to the one already in place. Earlier this offseason, I tried to guess what Trout would wind up earning in free agency and settled on a figure far greater than that.
And oh, yeah: Trout is still getting better. He set new career bests in walks, at-bats per home run, on-base percentage, OPS and OPS+ in 2018, and it very much appears he is slowly eliminating failure. By WAR, he is the best position player in baseball history through at age and has been that for more or less the entirety of his big-league career.
There are so many different ways to express Trout’s greatness that this author maintains a weekly Mike Trout update during MLB seasons and still learns new and amazing facts about Mike Trout all the time. Did you know that Mike Trout has not gone more than two straight games without reaching base since he became a full-time big-leaguer in 2012? Wild but true.
No one can fault the man for securing guaranteed multi-generational wealth and a commitment from the only franchise he has known as a professional. Despite Harper’s courtship, the appeal of playing near his New Jersey home in Philadelphia, and the mundanity of glorious Southern California weather, Trout has always maintained that he loves playing for the Los Angeles club. And waiting until after the 2020 season for free agency would not have been without risk: He missed time with injuries in both 2017 and 2018, though none of them seem like the type to linger.
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Those of us on the East Coast will have to adjust our bedtimes or give up the dream of someday watching Trout play regularly before our bedtimes, but the deal gives the Angels certainty that they’ll be able to build around the best player in baseball as they look to put together a winner.
And, more than that, it gives them Mike Trout – the Mike Trout – for the remainder of a career that might well wind up among the greatest of all time. You do what you need to do to keep a guy like that around, and the Angels should be thrilled it only required $430 million.