What to know about a potential Trout extension

March 4th, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After and signed megadeals worth $300 million and $330 million with the Padres and Phillies, respectively, and inked an extension with the Rockies worth $260 million, Angels fans want to know if superstar center fielder will be next to sign a long-term deal to remain with the club.

Trout’s situation is different than Machado, Harper and Arenado, however, so here’s a look at the key questions regarding a potential extension with the Angels.

How much longer is Trout under contract?

Unlike Arenado, who was set to be a free agent after this season, or Machado or Harper, who were both free agents, Trout remains under contract through the 2020 season after signing a six-year, $144.5 million extension in late March of 2014. So there is still plenty of time for the Angels and Trout to work on an extension before his contract expires after next season.

is an example of a player signing an extension while two years away from free agency, as he signed an eight-year extension worth $248 million before the '14 season with two years and $44 million remaining on his contract, essentially making the commitment worth $292 million over 10 years. Joey Votto did the same with the Reds before the 2012 season, inking a 10-year, $225 million contract with two years remaining, making the total $251.5 million over 12 years.

What have the Angels and Trout said publicly?

Angels owner Arte Moreno met with the media on Feb. 18 and said the Angels have had internal discussions about an extension with Trout, but wouldn’t say if they’ve begun negotiations with Trout’s agent, Craig Landis. Moreno, though, did say that signing Trout is “not in the back of our mind, but it’s in the front of our mind.”

Trout was asked about an extension that day and again on Friday, a day after Harper’s record deal, but has declined to comment. “I haven’t even thought about it,” Trout said Friday. “Obviously, you guys [the media] bring it up a lot and I appreciate you asking me all these questions, but right now is not the time to think about it. I still have two years.”

Have any potential terms been reported?

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported on Saturday the Angels have considered offering Trout a 10-year, $350 million extension, but that it isn’t clear if the club has actually proposed the offer to Trout’s camp. It would be the highest annual value of any contract in Major League history, eclipsing right-hander Zack Greinke’s record of $34.4 million per season on his six-year, $206.5 million contract signed with the D-backs before the 2016 season.

How does Trout’s age factor in?

Machado and Harper were both 26 years old as free agents, and Machado signed for 10 years and Harper signed for 13 years. Arenado is 27 and was set to be a free agent at 28, and his extension is for eight years. Trout is also 27 but isn’t set to be a free agent until he’s 29, so Trout would be three years older than Machado or Harper as a free agent, which means a 13-year contract like Harper’s would be unlikely.

When the Angels signed to a 10-year, $254 million deal before the 2012 season, Pujols was heading into his age-32 season, but clubs have been reluctant to hand out lengthy contracts to players in their 30s in recent seasons. But their commitment to Pujols shows Moreno isn’t afraid to spend big. "If we don't give him a long-term contract, Albert never comes here," Moreno said on Feb. 18. "He's been great for the franchise, a really special player. First-[ballot] Hall of Famer. If we don't give him a long-term contract, Albert doesn't come here."

How does Trout stack up compared to the league’s best?

Trout is universally regarded as the best player in baseball and is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. He's finished in the Top 2 in the balloting for AL MVP in six of the last seven years, winning the MVP in 2014 and 2016 and finishing fourth in '17. He's been an All-Star in each of the last seven seasons while winning six Silver Slugger Awards. Since his debut in 2011, Trout leads all Major Leaguers with 64.7 Wins Above Replacement, while Andrew McCutchen is second over that span with 41.7 WAR, per Fangraphs. For comparison, Harper has a 30.7 career WAR, while Machado is at 30.2 WAR and Arenado is at 25.3 WAR. So it's clear based on advanced metrics that Trout is in a category of his own and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

What other factors will Trout consider?

With two more years on his deal, Trout can take his time if he wants and determine what matters most to him and if he believes the Angels are a fit for his long-term future. Trout grew up in Millville, New Jersey, and is a noted Philadelphia sports fan. The Phillies and Yankees have long been rumored as potential landing spots for Trout if he were to reach free agency, but by all accounts, Trout enjoys playing for the Angels. The issue has been that the club has only made the postseason once in his career and it was short-lived, as they were swept by the Royals in the 2014 American League Division Series.

The Angels, though, have built a strong farm system and general manager Billy Eppler’s goal is to build a sustainable winning franchise. It’s worth noting, however, that the Phillies, Padres and Rockies haven’t won much recently outside of Colorado’s appearance in the National League Division Series last year and yet they were able to convince Harper, Machado and Arenado to sign, respectively. So Trout will have plenty of factors to consider but if he feels comfortable with the Angels, the club will do what it can to make him an Angel for life.