Lindbergh: Mike Trout isn’t worth $430 million; he’s worth much more

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer on March 19, 2019:

Angels center fielder and divine baseball being Mike Trout is reportedly close to finalizing an extension that will pay him more than $426.5 million over 12 years. The agreement, which doesn’t include an opt-out, ties Trout to the Angels through his 39th birthday, an age by which it’s conceivable that he’ll no longer be the best player in baseball. Trout was already due $66.5 million for 2019-20 under the terms of the six-year extension he signed in 2014, but even viewed as a 10-year, $360 million addition to that preexisting deal, this contract would break the record for total dollars committed, besting Bryce Harper’s 13-year, $330 million deal from last month (which Scott Boras barely had time to brag about before it was eclipsed). Along with long-term security, Trout will receive a slight raise in average annual value, which will stay at $36 million throughout the life of the deal.

The obvious first response to seeing a number as big as $430 million (or even $360 million) is, “That’s a lot of money.” The obvious second response is, “Well, yeah—we’re talking about Trout.” It would be weird if a player that much better at baseball than everyone else weren’t also that much better compensated. Viewed in that light, the surprising thing about the terms of this contract is that Trout won’t be making more. Trout will retire with more than $500 million in career earnings. He’s doing fine financially. But as hefty as his salary is, it won’t shatter the scale in the way his performance on the field does. The problem for Trout is that he’s too good to be paid exactly what he’s worth.

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Originally published: March 20, 2019. Last Updated: March 20, 2019.