Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a six-year contract extension expected to be worth at least $144.5 million, sources told Yahoo Sports on Friday night. The deal is a record for a player of Trout's age and service time.
The contract comes before Trout, 22, is eligible for arbitration and buys out only three years of free agency. He could become a free agent again at 29, after the 2020 season. The Angels were believed to have been insisting on a seven-year deal, which would have stretched farther into Trout's free agency, but Trout preferred to go shorter, saving another year of his prime for a new – and likely richer – marketplace.
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In each of his first two full seasons, Trout was runner-up to Miguel Cabrera for American League MVP. He was twice an All-Star. In that span, he batted .324 with 57 home runs, 180 RBI and 82 steals in 296 games. Cabrera on Thursday agreed to an eight-year, $248 million extension with the Detroit Tigers. Trout will earn $1 million this season, with the extension beginning in 2015.
On a team with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, it is Trout who embodies the present and the future of the Angels, a team seeking to reclaim its place as one of the forces in the league. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Trout's game is both power and speed. He is widely recognized as the best all-around talent in the sport.
The question for the Angels and owner Arte Moreno, at a time when younger players are routinely signed to free-agent-type contracts before they are eligible for free agency, is what that might be worth. Their payroll in 2014 projects to about $161 million, the highest it has ever been, including about $26 million owed to Vernon Wells and Joe Blanton, neither of whom will play for the Angels. In 2016, Pujols, Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver and Trout could make up almost $125 million of Moreno's payroll, or nearly the club's entire payroll in 2013.
Trout appears to be growing into a franchise player, if he's not there already. As contract negotiations were waged, Trout arrived in spring training seemingly more comfortable with the attention and then, as if to cement his readiness for Year 3, batted .407 with five home runs.
The Angels open their season Monday in Anaheim against the Seattle Mariners.
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