TEMPE, Ariz. — Mike Trout never wanted to leave the Los Angeles Angels, never really thought about leaving the Angels, and really wasn’t interested in going home to play the rest of his career in Philadelphia.
He decided to share those feelings late Monday night with the rest of the world.
Trout, 27, agreed in principal to a record-setting 12-year, $426.5 million contract that will keep him with the Angels for the rest of his career, two persons with direct knowledge of the contract negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. The contract includes a full no-trade clause and no opt-out provisions. The persons spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the contract won’t be finalized until the end of the week.
It’s the largest contract in sports history, almost $100 million more than Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, while also eclipsing Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke’s $34.4 million annual average salary.
Considering that Trout is still under contract for two more years at $33.25 million per year, it technically is a 10-year, $360 million extension that begins in 2021, but who’s counting?
The path to his record pay dirt was cleared when Harper (13 years, $330 million) and Manny Machado (10 years, $300 million with the San Diego Padres) signed their contracts in the past three weeks.
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RECORD-BREAKING: Trout finalizing a whopping $426.5M deal with Angels
Those guys may be stars, but neither remotely close to having the resume of Trout. He is a two-time MVP who has finished in the top five in each of his seven seasons. He has hit .307 with a .416 on-base percentage and .573 slugging percentage, with 240 homers, 648 RBI, 793 runs and 189 stolen bases. He has the highest Wins Above Replacement through the age of 26 than any player in baseball history.
And, eventually, he’ll be going into Cooperstown as an Angel.
Angels owner Arte Moreno, who signed future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols $240 million over 10 years after the 2011 season, now has locked up his biggest star.
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The Angels have been negotiating this deal with Trout for months, and while the parameters weren’t agreed upon until about 2 a.m. ET, they were always cautiously optimistic.
They knew that Trout was fully invested in the organization. Trout even studied videos and watched hitters before the last few drafts, and personally lobbied for the Angels to draft outfielder Jo Adell in 2017. They drafted, signed him, and Trout even gave him his cell phone number, telling him to call whenever he needed anything.
Still, with time running out before the season started, knowing that Trout wanted to halt negotiations after opening day, the Angels really didn’t know they could consummate the deal before next winter.
Certainly, they could wait, but the Angels wanted to halt the relentless questions asking whether they were going to sign him to an extension, or ultimately trade him.
And they definitely wanted to squash any further tampering.
The Angels were furious with Harper when he openly lobbied for the Phillies to sign Trout when he became a free agent, and filed a complaint with the Commissioner’s office. They feared that more players would start a campaign. They knew he loved living in Laguna Beach, but worried about pressure from friends and family to return home to Millville, N.J., just 45 minutes from Philadelphia.
And they certainly were aware of Phillies owner John Middleton’s willingness to spend as much stupid money as Trout would ever desire to make it happen.
Yet, Trout was certainly cognizant of the demands of playing at home. There would be endless ticket requests and demands on his time. He could no longer retreat quietly to the beaches. He would be a walking billboard where everyone would know what he was doing every waking moment.
Sure, he wishes the Angels would win more, reaching the postseason just once in his career, but he cherishes his privacy away from the ballfield.
Now, he gets to have it all.
Mike Trout is an Angel.
He’ll remain an Angel.
And he will retire as an Angel.
And that’s perfectly fine by him.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale