Mike Trout's big payday might be just around the corner. Wednesday was a relatively small payday but a significant one, as the Angels' center fielder agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract for the 2014 season.
Trout's 2014 salary is the largest the Angels — or any team — have given a player not yet eligible for salary arbitration.
The $1 million salary breaks the previous record of $900,000 shared by Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and then-St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. Howard was 27 years old at the time and Pujols was 23.
Trout is 22 and about to hit paydirt. The Angels are still negotiating a long-term contract extension with Trout's camp that would kick in beginning next season. Yahoo! Sports reported Sunday that the two sides had agreed on a six-year deal that would keep Trout in Anaheim through 2019 and were still negotiating the dollar value of the contract.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto called the contract a “landmark,” telling reporters in Tempe, Ariz., that Trout had earned the largest pre-arbitration contract in franchise history.
The Angels renewed Trout's contract last season for $510,000 — $20,000 above the major-league minimum. That was commensurate with what the team had previously awarded players entering their second full season, but on the tiny side for the reigning American League Rookie of the Year and runner-up in MVP voting.
His agent, Craig Landis, issued a statement saying the deal “falls well short of a 'fair' contract.”
Trout proceeded to bat .323 with a .432 on-base percentage and .557 slugging percentage. He hit 27 home runs, scored 109 runs and drove in 97.
The Angels could have renewed Trout's contract for whatever salary they pleased this year too. Instead, they broke the bank, albeit on a small scale.
Trout has repeatedly declined to comment about contract talks.