The 2012 American League rookie of the year and most valuable player runner-up and the team are far enough apart in talks over his 2013 salary that Trout expects to have his contract “renewed” on Saturday at a figure the Angels set, not one the 21-year-old phenom agrees to.
“You could easily put yourself in a bad mood about it, but that’s not me,” Trout said before Thursday’s workout. “I like to play baseball. I’m going to try to win a World Series for the team and not worry about off-the-field things.”
Players with less than three years of major league service have virtually no leverage, and most will make close to the major league minimum, which rose from $480,000 in 2012 to $490,000 this season.
If a player and team can’t agree on a figure, the team can renew the player at a salary at or above the minimum, an outcome that can ruffle the feathers of some players and their agents but doesn’t always cause contention.
Derek Jeter was renewed after winning rookie of the year in 1996, but the New York Yankees more than tripled his salary, from $130,000 to $550,000. Ryan Howard was renewed in 2007 after winning rookie of the year in 2005 and MVP in 2006, but the Phillies more than doubled his pay, from $355,000 to $900,000.
Most salary bumps for rookies of the year are in the 15%-20% range, but few also finish among top MVP vote getters, which makes Trout a little more exceptional.
The closest comparable for Trout may be Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, the former St. Louis slugger who won rookie of the year and finished fourth in MVP voting in 2001. The Cardinals and Pujols agreed to terms in 2002 for $600,000, twice what he made in 2001.
The Angels and Trout’s agent have not begun discussing a multi-year deal. Trout will probably make a salary closer to the major league minimum than $1 million this season; his salary will jump considerably when he reaches arbitration in 2015.“I have to go out there, put up some numbers and not worry about that other stuff,” Trout said. “My time will come.”