The Los Angeles Angels could have “assigned” any salary they wanted to Mike Trout, per the guidelines set forth by the CBA for pre-arbitration MLB players. They chose to give Trout a nominal raise ($20k), paying him barely more than the MLB minimum for 2013.
Trout, to his credit, has taken the high road. Trout’s agent Craig Landis has not, ripping the team for the move, which resulted at the end of a “negotiation” whereby the Angels basically told Landis they were done talking and summarily “assigned” a salary for 2013.
Were the Angels entirely within their right to do this? Yes.
Is $510,000 an amazing amount of money regardless? You bet.
Does this number have any effect on the 9-figure salary Trout will eventually merit? Not in the least.
Did the Angels needlessly look to save a few thousand dollars with the ONE guy on the team who they shouldn’t have low-balled after his historic 2012 season? Absolutely.
There’s ample precident for teams to pay pre-arb guys more than they need to in order to show good faith. Just a couple of recent examples: Craig Kimbrel went from $419k to $590k after winning the Rookie of the Year in 2011. Tim Lincecum went from $405k to $650k after winning the Cy Young. Grant Brisbee posted a few more 1st-2nd year salary jumps for the last 10 years of Rookie-of-the-Year award winners to further illustrate the point; Trout has the 2nd lowest raise by any of the last 10 RoY winners (unsurprisingly, the penurious Marlins gave Chris Coughlan a lower raise after he won). What Trout did was arguably more impressive than what either Kimbrel or Lincecum did; he unanimously won the Rookie of the Year and came in 2nd in MVP voting (a disputed MVP vote since Trout’s season from a statistical basis was one of the best in the history of the game).
Why antagonize your best player, your most important guy going forward, in order to save $100k?? This is the same team that is going to pay Vernon Wells $24.643 Million to be their 4th outfielder. Jeff Miller, columnist for the Orange County Register, put it better than I could online; every one of his points is valid.
I just hope the Nationals never stoop to this sort of behavior just to save a few thousand dollars on a team worth hundreds of millions.