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Ohtani is more valuable than Trout


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OK, before you get your panties in a wad, hear me out. As with probably 98% of people reading this, Mike Trout is my favorite player of all time and it isn't particularly close. Not only is he the greatest Angel of all time by a huge margin, he has already produced one of the twenty or so best seven-year peaks in major league history and well on his way to becoming an inner circle Hall of Famer. He truly is as good as Mickey Mantle was, with a good chance of maintaining greater longevity by virtue of keeping off the booze.

But as far as the value to the franchise right now--taking into account salary, projected value via WAR, and age--Ohtani is more valuable.


Mike Trout has two more years on his contract, for a little over $68 million. We can safely assume that, barring injury, he should produce somewhere in the 15-22 WAR range, with 18 (9 per season) being a good median guess. That's $3.8M per WAR, a veritable bargain.

Ohtani has five more years of club control, including two at minimum ($545k), and three via arbitration (maybe $15-20M per year). So that would be about 5 years at $50-60M total. And WAR? Well, he's going to finish this year around 4, with maybe 115 games as a hitter (but lowish PA per game) and 10 games as a starter. If he either plays 140 games as a hitter or 110-120/20-25, then his WAR goes up to at least 5-6 per year. Let's project something like 5, 5, 7, 8, 8 over those five years, so 38 total. That's $1.44M per WAR - a massive bargain.  Even if I'm overvaluing Ohtani's WAR by 20%, he's still going to give us 30 WAR or so at $55M, which is $1.83M per WAR, less than half Trout.

Now chances are that the Angels will offer Ohtani a mega contract sometime in the next few years and hopefully not make the same mistake they made with Trout - not offering him the lifetime contract he allegedly asked for. But even so, the cost of those next five years won't be substantially more.

So right now Ohtani is more valuable. If the Angels extend Trout to 10/$450MM (or whatever), it will be closer and you could argue that the guarantee of those ten years outweighs the bargain of Ohtani's cheaper five. But chances are Trout will have an opt out, and be far less valuable in the second half of that contract.

Either way let's hope that the Angels keep both for the rest of their contracts. They really could have the two best players in baseball as soon as 2020 or 2021.

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Trout is to the portion of his contract where he is very likely to no longer be at the top of the Fangraphs trade value leaderboard (a feat he has managed for something like 5 years straight), if only because of his ~$70 million and just two years remaining on his contract.

That said I'm not sure if Ohtani will be the one to pass him. Ohtani's injury limits the most projectable aspect of his skill set going forward. Meanwhile his bat has been impressive but he's hitting way above expectation in a limited sample. He also doesn't have a position. 5 controllable years is definitely going to put him in the discussion though.

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I think a basic point is being missed:

I'm not comparing Trout vs. Ohtani in 2018 or 2019 or any specific year. I'm comparing their value as commodities including club controlled years, contracts, and projected value. I'm estimating:

Trout: Two years at 15-22 WAR for $68MM

Ohtani: Five years at 30-38ish WAR for $55MM

Trout will likely out-perform Ohtani in any given year, but not per dollar, and he's only controlled as an Angel through 2020, while Ohtani is through 2023.

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