Philadelphia, PA – Here we go again.
Major League teams have renewed their first- and second-year players and, of course, someone is not too happy.
This time, it's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout, the 21- year-old wunderkind, who took the baseball world by storm last year with one of the best American League Rookie of the Year performances of all-time and was also the runner-up in MVP balloting.
Trout hit .326 with 30 home runs, 49 steals, 129 runs, a .564 slugging average, .399 on-base percentage and .963 OPS. Plus, he probably should have won a Gold Glove, too.
So, how was he rewarded? Well, the Angels signed him to a $510,000 deal, or just more than $20,000 over the league minimum. More precisely, a 6.25 percent raise from his $480,000 rookie salary.
Here's the deal: If you are a player with less than three years of service time, you pretty much have to take whatever the team offers. There is no recourse until you are eligible for salary arbitration. Sometimes, the team offers up a little bit more, but most of the time the player is renewed at the league minimum, or a little bit more, based on a games-played scale. That is just the way it is.
"In my opinion, this contract falls well short of a 'fair' contract, and I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process," Trout's agent, Craig Landis, told the Los Angeles Times in an email.
Unfortunately, Trout has to deal with it. It may not be right, but it's been this way for years.
"My time will come," Trout said. "I'm concentrating on one thing, and that's getting to the postseason."
Would it have killed the Angels to maybe pony up a little more for Trout? Of course not, but the players will be the ones eventually holding all the chips, and believe me, they will take full advantage of it
The Miami Marlins renewed their young superstar Giancarlo Stanton at just $537,000. But, in case you haven't noticed, the Marlins have shed some salary this offseason and are likely to have a payroll near $30 million, or just over $330 million less than the Angels paid out to Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols the past two winters.
The Trout thing really makes me scratch my head. Here he is the new face of baseball and maybe the best all-around player in the game, and you want to ruffle his feathers?
And let's not forget the Angels also have told him that he will not be playing center field this season, either.
Will there be lingering bad feelings? Who knows. The New York Yankees are the richest team in the league and they have employed the same practice for years. Although, they bumped Derek Jeter a nice amount after he won the AL ROY in 1996 and he had nowhere near the type of season that Trout had.
Chances are this really is a non-issue. Trout doesn't strike me as the type of kid who is going to carry a grudge for as long as it's going to be once he's able to leave. Now, does this mean he may play a little hardball with the Angels when extension talks commence? Absolutely. But, let's be honest that was going to be the case anyway.
And if Trout continues to do what he does, the Angels will be more than happy to pay. It may be a little more than they have hoped, but that's the price they pay for doing this now.
So, the next time a player holds out for an extra year in fee agency, remember the way they were treated their first couple of years in the league.
Bottom line: It is a business, from both standpoints.