When a pre-arbitration eligible player and their team can't reach an agreement on a contract for the upcoming year, the team can choose to renew that player -- essentially saying, "We own you, and this is what you'll make." When that happens, a rift can occur. That seems to be happening in Los Angeles, as the Angels have renewed Mike Trout's contract and will pay him $510k.
Trout may not have an issue with the Angels (he has already put forth an understanding face), but his agent sure has a problem, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Trout, who is represented by Craig Landis, is open to an extension, but he knows a long-term deal isn't coming quite yet. However, he and his agent surely wanted more than the near-minimum he will get in 2013.
The minimum salary for players in 2013 is $490,000 (up from $480,000 in 2012). Trout's $20,000 raise is a lot for the average Joe, but from a percentage basis it only represents a four percent raise over what he made in his rookie year. Four percent for being the Rookie of the Year in the American League and finishing second in MVP voting. Trout's agent would seem to have good argument for the contract being unfair.
But that's the system. Teams control players almost exclusively for their first three service years. After that, an arbitrator can help determine the player's contract for the next three seasons. Then, a player can finally hit free agency. Trout will get his money, but he may have to wait. The Angels are likely already exploring what it will take buy out his arbitration years and a couple year of free agency.
Last season, Trout's first full year in the bigs (he played 40 games in 2011), Trout hit .326/.399/.564 with 30 home runs. He played fantastic defense and almost single-handedly turned around the Angels' season. There is little doubt that he will be a star for years to come, but as Angels' GM Jerry Dipoto points out, his contract is an example of "how the system works."
"I don't think so," Dipoto said when asked if the renewal will affect future contract talks. "Mike's a great kid and will go out and bust his tail."
Trout's teammate Mark Trumbo got $540,000, but he has an additional year of service time under his belt. Trumbo and Trout are in similar positions: they have very little control over what happens with their contracts because of their service time. Dipoto was sure to point out the fact that Trout's contract was based solely service time, not performance.
While he may not be happy about his contract, Trout also has his move to left field to fume over. The 21-year old is not making a big deal about the move, but he has indicated a disappointment in leaving center field. Last season, Trout made some amazing plays in center field, so it's understandable that he wouldn't want to leave the position. The Angels plan to play
Josh Hamilton the fleet-footed Peter Bourjos in center, at least for the time being.