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Mike Trout’s new $430 million contract is a bargain

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$430 million! Twelve years! The biggest deal in sports history! The mind reels!

That’s the first response of just about everyone but, once you think about Mike Trout’s new contract with the Los Angeles Angels, you realize that it’s a team-friendly deal. In fact, it’s a bargain.

One way to think about it is to look at how good a player is vs. how good other highly-paid players are.

Now, I’m sure I don’t need to go into the gory details of why Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. If you doubt that, well, there’s not much I can do to help you, frankly, because it means you’re immune to most external stimuli.  But what I don’t think people truly understand is just how much better Trout is than even the other top players in the game. Since this is a story about money, let’s compare Trout to the next two-highest paid players in the game: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Harper has had approximately one year as good as most Trout years. Machado is consistently one of the best players in the game, but he’s never approached Trout in a given year. I don’t think that’s a slight on those guys to say that. They’d probably admit it themselves. But did you know that, according to WAR anyway, Trout’s eight big league seasons have been worth more than Bryce Harper and Manny Machado’s fourteen seasons combined? Yep. Put the two most highly paid players in baseball history before today and they don’t add up to one Mike Trout. Harper and Machado will make a combined $660 million over the next ten years while Trout will make $430 million over the next 12. That’s a deal!

Here’s another way to look at it.

Mike Trout is going to make around $36 million a year for the next 12 years. In 2018, baseball revenue was $10.3 billion. That number will, presumably, go up this year and most other years going forward. That means that Trout will make, at a minimum, 0.35% of overall revenues. When Alex Rodriguez got his ten-year, $250 million deal from the rangers in 2001, baseball revenues were at $3.58 billion, which means that A-Rod made nearly 0.70% of overall revenues. A-Rod’s first ten-year deal — as opposed to the extension he signed after his opt-out — is considered by most to have, actually, been something of a bargain. Trout’s, proportionately, is far cheaper than that.  Oh, and if inflation is a concept floating around your head right now, know that once you adjust for inflation, Trout and A-Rod’s contracts are roughly the same amount in absolute dollars. Once you adjust for inflation, however, baseball’s revenues have more or less doubled. Again, fantastic deal for the Angels.

OK, Craig, this is a bargain in the context of baseball. But is it not, possibly, an overpay for the Angels? Nah, hard to see it that way.

A lot is made of how much dead money the Angels have in the form of contracts to Albert Pujols and some other past-their-prime players. That’s rather unfortunate for them, but let’s not cry too much for Arte Moreno. The Angels play in the second largest media market in the country and are currently in the middle of a TV deal that pays them $3 billion over 20 years. Or, around $150 million a year. Which is around what their payroll is, even with Trout’s extension and even with Pujols’ (mostly) dead money. Which means that, before a ticket, a beer, a big foam finger or a stuffed Rally Monkey is sold — and before league-wide revenue sources are accounted for — the Angels are breaking even. Once the other stuff is accounted for — and they sell a lot of tickets in Anaheim — they are quite profitable. Oh, and the value of the franchise has appreciated madly too: Arte Moreno paid only $180 million for the team and it’s now worth over $1 billion and may be north of $2 billion.

All of which is to say, any claim that Mike Trout’s new deal is too big or otherwise unreasonable is, well, unreasonable. He is being paid less than he is worth in baseball terms. Proportionate to the numbers that actually matter, he’s being paid far less than a lot of big stars in the game have been paid in the past. And, with respect to the team who is paying him, he does not represent an unreasonable investment, let alone an unduly burdensome one.

Mike Trout is worth it. The Angels can afford it. In fact, the guy is a bargain.

Astros hitting coach receives 20-game suspension; A’s Laureano six

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Houston Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine Tuesday for his role in a benches-clearing brawl at Oakland, while Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano was given a six-game suspension and a fine.

Cintron’s suspension is the longest for an on-field transgression in 15 years, since Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers received 20 games for his altercation with two cameramen in 2005.

“I accept MLB’s suspension and will learn from this,” Cintron said in a statement. “Although I never referenced Ramon’s mother, my actions were inappropriate. I apologize for my part in Sunday’s unfortunate incident. As coaches, we are held to a higher standard and should be an example to the players. Hopefully, other coaches will learn from my mistake so that this never happens again in the future.”

Laureano appealed, so his discipline didn’t begin Tuesday night in Oakland’s game against the Angels. He was in the lineup batting second and playing center field at Angel Stadium.

Laureano was hit by a pitch from Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 7-2 victory Sunday. He began exchanging words with a gesturing Cintron then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward the 41-year-old Cintron.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder got to the hitting coach. Laureano is a former Astros player and the rival clubs have been the top two in the AL West the past two years. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, another former Houston player, revealed the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in November to The Athletic.

Laureano was hit for the third time in the weekend series swept by Oakland – the fifth time the A’s were hit in all while the Astros didn’t get plunked once – and he pointed at Castellanos.

Players rushed out of both dugouts. Laureano was ejected by plate umpire Ted Barrett, and the umpiring crew could easily be heard yelling at the players to “get back to the dugout!” through a ballpark with no fans.

“I just thought that, whew, boy they threw the book at us big time. But what can you do?” said Astros manager Dusty Baker, who had already been ejected by the time the brawl occurred and didn’t see it on TV. “The ruling is the ruling. I talked to the powers that be in the commissioner’s office this afternoon and we had a good conversation. So … we have to deal with it and hopefully this brings our guys even closer together. He was a big part of our team.”

The A’s lost the AL wild-card game each of the past two seasons after winning 97 games both years to place second in the AL West behind three-time reigning division champion Houston, which won a World Series in 2017 and an AL pennant last season.

Laureano began Tuesday batting .259 with three homers and 10 RBIs as the A’s regular center fielder and No. 2 hitter.

“It’s just something we have to deal with,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the suspension. “I don’t make those decisions, and whatever I think about them doesn’t really matter anyway, so I think the best thing to do is try to get it behind us as quickly as we can.”

Melvin wasn’t sure how he would potentially structure his outfield and lineup without Laureano for several games.

“You can’t replace him,” Melvin said. “You just have to play short.”

The Dodgers and Astros had their own dustup when Los Angeles visited Houston last month. LA lost the ’17 World Series to the Astros when the sign-stealing scam was happening.

In announcing the punishments, MLB said Cintron’s discipline was “for his role in inciting and escalating the conflict between the two clubs.” Given the coronavirus pandemic, baseball has established strict guidelines about avoiding brawls.

“The explanation was that he’s a coach and especially with the COVID situation out here … in essence they’re not going to stand for it,” Baker said. “Basically, somebody had to be the example. Especially in these times that we’re going through.”

A former infielder from Puerto Rico, Cintron played parts of nine major league seasons with Arizona, the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore and Washington. He won’t be eligible to coach again until Sept. 2, when the Astros are scheduled to host Texas.

“Cintron said what he did was wrong, and he apologized for it,” Baker said. “It still doesn’t take the fact away that it happened.”