You needn't be a sabermetrics devotee to know that Mike Trout, the 22-year-old Los Angeles Angels outfielder, is the best all-around player in baseball. So it was quite a bargain that he was paid $510,000 last season but led all of MLB in Wins Above Replacement.
Trout and the Angels agreed to a new one-year contract Wednesday that gives him a nearly 100-percent raise and pays him seven figures for the first time in his baseball life. Trout will now make a cool $1 million, which is a nice chunk of change for a 22-year-old but still tiddlywinks compared to his peers.
In 2013, Trout's second full season in MLB, he led the league in runs and walks, hitting .323/.432/.557 with 27 homers, 97 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. Plus, he's a great outfielder.
The $1 million deal is a record for a pre-arbitration player, topping the $900,000 paid to both Ryan Howard (2007) and Albert Pujols (2003). The contract is likely just a precursor to a larger deal that may be coming soon, even this spring. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported over the weekend that Trout and the Angels are working on a six-year deal that could have an average annual value of $25 million. Without a long-term extension, Trout would be a free agent in 2018 and eligible for salary artibration next year.
While you can very well argue that everybody in baseball is overpaid, that's not really the point here.
Consider the market. Last year the seven players who were paid the most in baseball — Alex Rodriguez, Cliff Lee, Johan Santana, Vernon Wells, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Prince Fielder — had a total WAR of 9.2, according to Baseball Reference. Mike Trout's WAR was also 9.2. Yep, just him by himself. The difference in salary? Those players made a total of $173 million while Trout made $510K.
If the $1 million deal holds for 2014, Trout will be the 15th-highest-paid player on the Angels' roster. So, yeah, a million dollars is nice for Trout, but given his production, it's still quite a steal for the Angels.
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