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Upset about Trout’s salary? Then change the CBA

A hot topic in some baseball circles this week is related to – you guessed it – money.

Craig Landis, agent of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout – the unanimous winner of the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year Award and second-place finisher in the voting for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award – is “stunned” over the second-year player’s 2013 salary, according to the LA Times.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports his sources say Landis wanted $1 million for Trout’s services this season. Instead, Trout had no choice but to accept the Angels’ $510,000 offer.

Those up in arms about this apparently do not understand Major League Baseball’s salary structure.

Just like any other pre-arbitration player, Trout basically has no leverage. He has to play for whatever his team offers him – as long as it meets the MLB minimum salary. That is $490,000 this season, going up to half a million next year.

Like most clubs, the Angels have a pay scale for one-, two- and three-year players that they stick to. The intent is to keep all salaries down until the players become arbitration-eligible at three years of service and free agent-eligible at six years. At that point, the player takes charge, able to secure his best deal from wherever it may come.

The Angels could have made an exception for Trout in 2013, but it would have been relatively insignificant in size. If the flood gates were opened, the owners might lose control over this expense hammer they hold over all players in this service time range. MLB ownership has proven time and time again that without strict rules to govern their behavior, some will over-spend, creating problems for their peers as well.

Some complain that the current compensation rules are unfair. Well, if you are among the unhappy, then focus your aim on changing them. Just don’t expect to get anywhere.

On the owner-player labor front, concessions from one side are not generally given without expecting something in return from the other. With the current collective bargaining agreement having four more years to run, any alteration to the pre-arbitration salary structure (beyond annual cost of living increases to the minimum salary) is almost certainly not coming soon.

Sure, Trout and Landis could carry a grudge over this player not being treated better financially than his peers, but when the big money comes, will it really matter?

That time will come soon enough. Like many other young stars, Trout seems likely to receive a multi-year, multi-million-dollar offer to cover his arbitration-eligible years and perhaps some of his free agent years as well. This could happen before Trout becomes eligible for arbitration for the first time following the 2014 season.

Considering the contracts the Halos have given to established stars Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton the last two winters, it is pretty clear that Angels owner Arte Moreno is not hesitant to pay what the market requires.

No matter his 2013 salary, if Trout continues on his current trajectory, his first multi-year contract could set a new MLB record for that type of deal.

All of this current noise will then be long-forgotten.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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18 Responses to “Upset about Trout’s salary? Then change the CBA”

  1. Brian Walton says:

    Since Trout came up briefly in the context of yesterday’s Pujols post, I continued on the theme today.

    The Cardinals have yet to announce coming to terms with their pre-arbitration players, but expect the “news” any day now.

    • blingboy says:

      Chances Craig gets a contract now? Sometime this season?

      • Brian Walton says:

        Well, Craig will certainly get his one-year contract very soon, just like Trout and the others. 😉

        Assuming you mean a longer-term deal, he would be #1 on my list to consider (after Wainwright), but there is no pressing need for it to be now. Just like in all deals, time is a tradeoff. Do you want to see another good season from him, without injury, before making the big offer? If so, the price could go up. Is Craig on the same plane with Pujols, Wainwright, Garcia and Molina, should he be on the wait and see list with Freese or in between like Motte?

        • Nutlaw says:

          Well, the team has Holliday, Taveras, and Adams to man LF, RF, and 1B long term, but no one else behind them. If one of them stumbles, they really need Craig around. He gets higher priority than Freese or Motte in my mind.

          • blingboy says:

            “Well, the team has Holliday, Taveras, and Adams to man LF, RF, and 1B long term”

            So, you think Adams will take the starting 1B job away from Craig? When?

            • Nutlaw says:

              No, I think that Craig is better than Adams. I can see Craig shifting to the outfield to fit Adams in at first, though. I could also potentially see them not paying Craig big money in favor of using the other three if they all keep playing well.

  2. CariocaCardinal says:

    Has Trout’s agent ever had the balls to throw out the number he thinks is fair?

  3. Nutlaw says:

    Yeah, Trout will make money and I’m sure that the team would have given him more money now to lock him up long term at a cheaper rate than he’d otherwise get. It’s silly to expect the team to just hand him money for no reason.

  4. blingboy says:

    So Matheny says he’s close to picking a 5th starter so he can start stretching him out next time through. And then Rosey’s meeting with Matheny and Liliquist after today’s game.

    Who’s it going to be?

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Great to hear Ronny get ahold of one today.

  6. crdswmn says:

    There needs to be a MLB scandal or something big to talk about. This off season and ST have been the most boring in recent memory.

    Sorry, but Mike Trout’s whining just doesn’t do it for me.

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