As a pre-arbitration player, 2012 AL MVP runner-up Mike Trout has no negotiating power with the Angels. So, instead of signing for a salary he didn’t like, he had his contract renewed by the team for $510,000 on Saturday.
That figure is just $20,000 above the major league minimum. It’s unclear whether the Angels initially offered him more. Teams will often make pre-arbitration-eligible players offers and then roll them back if they’re not accepted. The Angels other 21 pre-arby players all agreed to contract; Trout was the only one to have get renewed.
Most teams employ a strict scale for pre-arbitration players in which salary is almost entirely determined by service time, with performance figuring very little into it. That the Angels didn’t throw Trout a bone an kick in an extra $100,000-$200,000 likely has far less to do with them being cheap and more about not wanting to mess with their scale. They’ll certainly be willing to make it up to him later.
Trout, on the other hand, may have some hard feelings over the negotiations. Still, it’s strictly business as usual for major league teams. That pre-arbitration players are paid so little allows teams to fork over $15 million, $20 million or even $25 million per year to free agents. Trout will get his eventually; he’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time after 2014 and he’ll be eligible for free agency following the 2017 season.
In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: