Trout just completed his rookie season for the Angels. MLB players with 0-3 years of service time are paid what the team chooses (so long as it’s over the minimum). Players are arbitration eligible from years 4-6, and they become free agents after six years of service time.
Because he only has one year of service time, the Angels had the right to pay Trout whatever they chose. They opted to renew his contract for $510,000, which is just $20,000 more than the minimum salary.
“In my opinion, this contract falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract and I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process,” agent Craig Landis said Saturday, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
Landis reportedly said Trout was also disappointed with the amount of money for which the Angels chose to renew his contract.
Teams generally renew the contracts of players’ with 0-3 years of service time in one of two ways: increasing their pay based on service time, or on performance. The Angels operate on the former method, which is why Mark Trumbo received more money ($540,000) than Trout despite having an inferior season.
For context, there is some precedent for teams renewing young players’ contracts for raises if they have performed well.
Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young Award in his second season and was paid $650,000 by the San Francisco Giants the following season (the minimum salary was $400,000). Ryan Howard won Rookie of the Year in 2006 and was paid $355,000 the next season by the Philadelphia Phillies (minimum salary was $327,000). He won MVP in his second season and was renewed for a record $900,000 the following year.
Not only did Landis say Trout is disappointed with his contract renewal price, but he also said his client was disappointed the Angels moved him away from center field.
“As when he learned he would not be the team’s primary center fielder for the upcoming season, Mike will put the disappointment behind him and focus on helping the Angels reach their goal of winning the 2013 World Series,” Landis said, per The Register.
The Angels better hope neither factor adversely affects their best player.
Though it seems absurd that Trout is making so little money, these are part of the rules the players union agreed to during collective bargaining. They are also important rules; if teams couldn’t control the costs of young players, smaller-market clubs would have even less of a chance to compete because player salaries would escalate quickly. There should be a reward to clubs that draft well.
As long as he remains productive, Trout will be pulling in millions by the time he enters arbitration, and he’ll be in line for at least a $200 million contract when free agency comes. He and his agent should be patient and worry about more important matters, though I do think a team that spent $240 million on Albert Pujols and $125 million for Josh Hamilton could have sprung for an extra $100-200k for Trout. He certainly earned it.