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Trout Porn! (courtesy of Fangraphs)


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I'll tell you where Arte got it right was signing him to a reasonable player contract and then building provisions for Trout to profit heavily from the outside business ventures.

It's a huge way around the salary cap and a way for both sides to be very handsomely paid.

What provisions?

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With all due respect to Trout's otherworldly skills,the market is not governed by theoretical Fangraphs values. You can't really make a case for surplus value when no team could feasibly pay trout 50 million a year. 

 

Fangraphs bases their dollar values on the actual market - that is, what teams pay for a player in terms of how they project for future WAR. It seems crazy that it is up to $7-8M per WAR, but that's what the free agent was in the offseason.

 

That said, I hear your point. If Trout truly is a 9 WAR player per year over the next five years and produces 45 WAR, clearly you can't multiply that by $8M and way that sort of contract - it would be 5 years, $360 million, or $72 million per year! I think the WAR value is more like a bell curve, with low-end WAR and high-end WAR being less valuable than middle-range. I mean, no one is going to pay $14-16 million a year for a player who is projected for 2 WAR per year. Similarly, after about 6 WAR there's a steep decline in $/WAR because no one--at least other than Trout--is actually projectible to WARs over 6.

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By the time Mike hits free agency in 2020 (assuming of course that we haven't locked him up before that for the second time), 50 million a year for possibly the best player to ever grace God's green earth is not only in the realm of possibility, but seems like a reasonable deal, given the fact that you're paying players not half as good as Trout is 30 million.

You can throw the biggest names of lore at Trout and he's either beat them all or is flat out better because of modern level of play. Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays, Griffey, Bonds, it doesn't matter.

If you're looking for a modern comp value, consider that in order to exceed how good Trout is, you'd need to trade the second AND third best players in baseball just for him. Meaning you'd have to somehow obtain both Harper and Goldschmidt and then offer them both for Trout.

As the article said, Harper priced himself out of possibility for 28 of 30 teams, meaning he's going to be a Dodger or Yankee soon and he's likely going to make 35-40 million a year. He's that good, and Trout is A LOT better.

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It's more that it is insanely risky financially to blow that much of your wad on one guy than arguing whether a player is worth/should be paid $50-75M a year. 

 

Like Scotty said I could actually see Trout getting $50M a year in 2020 if he hits free agency.  But if he gets injured, then you have 1/4 to 1/3 of your payroll tied up into one dude.

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I agree that's an insane amount of dollars.  However, given WAR values per year, those dollars are rising at a very high rate.  Trout and other economic factors will pull the whole pay scale higher.  There will be a day when some player gets to 50-75 million/year and the Calhouns of the baseball world will make 20 million easy. 

 

Our society is truly effed up. 

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I agree that's an insane amount of dollars. However, given WAR values per year, those dollars are rising at a very high rate. Trout and other economic factors will pull the whole pay scale higher. There will be a day when some player gets to 50-75 million/year and the Calhouns of the baseball world will make 20 million easy.

Our society is truly effed up.

I think something will give. Sports team profitability is currently based on publicly subsidized stadiums and regional sports network deals. Either of those bubbles could collapse.

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I think something will give. Sports team profitability is currently based on publicly subsidized stadiums and regional sports network deals. Either of those bubbles could collapse.

agreed. I really dont know how well or poorly the dodgers deal is working out for time warner. Its hard to imagine its benefited them though. Going forward, with the majority of the public not being sports fans (along the same lines as most on here not caring about the hallmark channel, shopping channel etc), and with technology allowing more and more people to get what they want online vs traditional cable, its hard to see it sustainable
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agreed. I really dont know how well or poorly the dodgers deal is working out for time warner. Its hard to imagine its benefited them though. Going forward, with the majority of the public not being sports fans (along the same lines as most on here not caring about the hallmark channel, shopping channel etc), and with technology allowing more and more people to get what they want online vs traditional cable, its hard to see it sustainable

 

 

I read an article a month or two ago that stated that Time Warner has been losing money on that deal big time.

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Younger consumers are cord-cutting their cable by the boatload.

I'm not sure I count as a younger consumer (I'm 30) but I've scaled down my cable over the last 6 months.

I just got a new cable package this week. The only reason I got the package I did was because of Angels and Ducks games. The nearly identical package without them was about $20 a month less if I'm remembering correctly.

So that network paid off for them in my case.

Edited by eaterfan
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By the time Mike hits free agency in 2020 (assuming of course that we haven't locked him up before that for the second time), 50 million a year for possibly the best player to ever grace God's green earth is not only in the realm of possibility, but seems like a reasonable deal, given the fact that you're paying players not half as good as Trout is 30 million.

You can throw the biggest names of lore at Trout and he's either beat them all or is flat out better because of modern level of play. Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays, Griffey, Bonds, it doesn't matter.

If you're looking for a modern comp value, consider that in order to exceed how good Trout is, you'd need to trade the second AND third best players in baseball just for him. Meaning you'd have to somehow obtain both Harper and Goldschmidt and then offer them both for Trout.

As the article said, Harper priced himself out of possibility for 28 of 30 teams, meaning he's going to be a Dodger or Yankee soon and he's likely going to make 35-40 million a year. He's that good, and Trout is A LOT better.

 

Scotty, I appreciate and share your love of Trout, but this is a bit over the top. I agree that Trout belongs in the conversation with players like Mays and Mantle, and there's no reason to think he won't still be great in five years, even ten, but two things: I wouldn't (yet) place him above other all-time greats, except at an early age. By the end of this year he will, once again, lead all players in WAR through his age group - he's only behind Ted Williams (36.4) and Ty Cobb (36.2), and just by a hair (35.0); by year's end he should be at 38+. He probably won't continue that forever, but should be able to at least be among the very best players in terms of WAR per age group into his late 20s.

 

But here's the thing: We don't know how Trout will age. There's always the ghost of Ken Griffey Jr, who was a very similar player to Trout. Griffey wasn't as good right away, but was similar for a few years in his mid-20s, but then dropped off precipitously in his early 30s. Griffey's last really good year was in 2000 at age 30, which was declined from his absolute peak a few years before. Through age 30 Griffey had WAR of 73.9, good for 16th all-time. He played ten more years and ended with...77.7 WAR, which is still good but drops him to #40 among position players. In other words, over the injury-plagued last decade of his career he accrued only 3.8 WAR, mainly due to missing time and also having many negative seasons due to terrible defensive numbers. We see a similar if more moderate collapse in our own Albert Pujols, who was at 77.5 WAR through age 30, good for 8th all-time, but has accrued only 13 since, with his total of 90.5 through age 35 (so far) dropping him to 21st all-time among 35 year olds.

 

Now chances are Trout won't decline like Griffey or even Pujols. But he will decline. He may not get any better with the bat and his defensive value will gradually erode. He was a 10 WAR player at age 20-21, looks like an 8-9 WAR player now and possible for a few years to come, but at some point he'll be a 7 WAR player, and then 5-6, etc. Unless, of course, he improves with the bat to at least partially make up for loss in defense and baserunning.

 

But here's my point. The main difference between the greatest players of all time like Willie Mays and Ty Cobb and the lesser greats like Ken Griffey is usually how their "third act" is, that is, how they decline. Greatness is established in the first two acts--rise and peak--but the very greatest players are those that maintain greatness into their third act. It is what separates Mays from Griffey (although Mays was also better in his prime than Griffey ever was), or someone like Ted Williams or Stan Musial from Albert Pujols or Jeff Bagwell.

 

So yes, Trout is amazing. He's as good as a young player has ever been - and that's quite a statement to make. But right now we don't know if he's going to end his career as a slightly better version of Ken Griffey Jr or vie Ruth, Bonds, Mays etc for a place among the very inner circle outfielders. Most likely it will be somewhere in-between.

 

Oh yeah, and if I was a GM I'd take Harper and Goldschmidt over Trout. As an Angels fan, no, but you got to go with two superstar 6+ WAR players over one megastar 9 WAR player.

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...So can we sign him to an even longer contract?

I swear I'm going to cry like a little girl when he leaves.

 

If Trout is still performing this well in a few years, my guess is that whoever is GM will open up extension talks a couple years before free agency. But I do think it is worth seeing how the next three players pans out. The Angels have him locked up for 5.5 more years; a lot can happen in that time. I'd probably start talking about re-negotiating after his age 26 season, when he has two years left.

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The economics of this are pretty complicated. The $7-8 million per WAR we saw last year is still lagging behind the ever increasing profits teams are making. I agree though, that those levels of profit are likely unsustainable.

 

Another issue is that the $7-8m/WAR figure is based on player supply in free agency. Those prices are arbitrarily raised based on a limited supply. Teams on average are paying closer to $3m/WAR for their entire team. Of course most of those are gained from cost controlled players. A lot of teams don't often go out looking to buy 9 or 10 WAR on the free agent market, let alone apply it to one position. Teams have several holes to fill, and they try to fill them as efficiently as possible - especially with cost controlled talent. As good as Trout is he still only fills one spot in the lineup card, and teams need to be able to put some money into the rest of their team. You still cannot buy a championship in free agency. There is not enough money or players available to do so. 40 WAR in free agency would cost you about $300m per year.

 

So, Trout's contract does price a few teams out of his trade market. His talent alone prices out others, as teams just don't all have the pieces needed to make it worth while. In the end this Fangraphs exercise is more for fun, since so many factors go in to making trades happen that we really can't put stringent expectations on them. If Trout were to be traded we'd all be disappointed in the return, and that is why top level players don't get moved until they get expensive and on shorter terms deals. Until then Trout will remain king of on the field and theoretical trade value.

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