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OC Register: Angels GM Billy Eppler sensed Mike Trout’s commitment to Angels years ago

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Billy Eppler began to have an idea Mike Trout would be interested in being an Angel for life a couple years ago, with occasional text messages he’d get at 11 at night.

“I would be looking through our minor league box scores,” the Angels general manager said, “and I would get a text from him and he would say ‘Look at what so-and-so did tonight,’ or ‘How about so-and-so?’ I hadn’t really seen that from players before. That was unique. It started to speak toward his investment.”

Eppler said exchanges like that helped him realize Trout’s interest in the long-term fortunes of the franchise.

And now, Trout will get a fortune to be the core of the franchise for the next 12 years.

A day after the Angels completed their 12-year, $426.5-million deal with Trout, Eppler said it was a relief “to get that box checked with Mike and keeping him here.”

Although there had been plenty of talk from outside the organization about Trout wanting to play closer to his hometown in New Jersey, Eppler said Trout has two homes.

“He’s got his upbringing home and his offseason home, but we’re his baseball home,” Eppler said. “To be able to keep him here and keep him home, as far as his professional life is concerned, was important to us. I’m very glad we were able to get that done and very thankful to Arte for making it a focal point of our organization. Between Arte and John Carpino and myself, we all have the same goal in mind and we were able to achieve that.”

The financial commitment from owner Arte Moreno is the largest in the history of North American sports. Trout’s deal is nearly $100 million more than the second-largest baseball contract, which is Bryce Harper’s $330 million deal. It’s $186 million more than the previous biggest deal in Angels history, which went to Albert Pujols.

Under Trout’s old contract, he was to be paid $33.25 million in 2019 and 2020. The new deal replaces those years with $36 million apiece. This year’s money includes a $20 million signing bonus and a $16 million salary. Trout will then be paid $35.45 million each year, from 2021-30.

Eppler said the organization had been planning for years on an extension for Trout, and this offseason was identified as the best time to do it “to operate in the dark as much as we could.” Eppler said the questions about Trout’s future would have only grown louder had they waited until next winter.

Eppler said getting this piece of business out of the way does not affect, one way or another, how the club handles the rest of its roster.

Eppler said the Angels have been on “a direction over speed approach” – in other words, growing the farm system rather than going through quick fixes through free agency – “and it allows us to stay on that path.”

It also allows Angels fans to be comfortable that their Trout jerseys are not going to be obsolete.

“I think it’s just great for the fans here and personally I think it’s great for baseball fans in general,” Eppler said of the prospect of Trout playing his entire career with one team. “ I grew up in an era where there was a coolness to Cal Ripken staying an Oriole and obviously working in New York and seeing Mariano (Rivera) and Derek (Jeter) and (Jorge) Posada play in one uniform. My childhood team that we were season ticket holders to were the Padres, and seeing Tony Gwynn and Robin Yount (with the Brewers) and just that population of guys that play in one uniform.

“I believe that’s good and I’m glad we can do that for the Angels fans and just in general for the baseball community, I think it’s a good thing.”


Shohei Ohtani grew up idolizing Ichiro Suzuki, so he was particularly moved by watching the highlights of the final game of Ichiro’s career, early Thursday morning in Arizona.

“I still can’t believe it,” Ohtani said through his interpreter on Thursday morning. “He was always someone that was my goal. That’s not going to change. I won’t be able to see him play anymore, but I’ll always have the memories of him playing.”

Ohtani said he was “very honored and thankful” that Ichiro gave him some advice last year. Ichiro also had some praise for Ohtani during his retirement press conference in Tokyo.

“Shohei needs to be the world’s greatest player,” Ichiro said. “There aren’t any other players like him, with his size and quickness.”


The Angels will have to make a decision on Daniel Hudson by Saturday. The veteran reliever is in camp on a minor league deal. If the Angels don’t add him to the major league roster by Saturday, they will have to pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to keep him in the minor leagues. …

Taylor Cole has resumed throwing after missing a couple weeks because of shoulder discomfort. Cole said on Thursday morning that he’s encouraged by his recent improvement, but he will nonetheless have to start the season on the injured list. …

Jarrett Parker has been out a few days with a sore oblique, Manager Brad Ausmus said. …

Kaleb Cowart, who cleared waivers and will begin the season in Triple-A, will spend about 80 percent of his time pitching and the rest as a position player, Ausmus said.

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False.  Trout is @Chuckster70 . I mean just look at the similarities.  Chuck likes the Angels and so does Trout.  And Chuck's a guy, and so is Mike.  And Chuck is white, and so is Mike.  And Chuck's a pretty storng dude, and so is Mike.  And Chuck prefers to spend his time in a part of the country with more interesting weather patterns in the Winter, and so does Mike.

I mean they're practically the same guy. 

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3 hours ago, Second Base said:

False.  Trout is @Chuckster70 . I mean just look at the similarities.  Chuck likes the Angels and so does Trout.  And Chuck's a guy, and so is Mike.  And Chuck is white, and so is Mike.  And Chuck's a pretty storng dude, and so is Mike.  And Chuck prefers to spend his time in a part of the country with more interesting weather patterns in the Winter, and so does Mike.

I mean they're practically the same guy. 


Also, we both hate public speaking.. :) 

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26 minutes ago, RBM said:

The $20 M bonus is spread over the 12 year contract so (According to Spotrac) Trout's Adjusted Salary for 2019 is now $17.9 M versus $35 M under the old deal. I think this could factor into our ability to add another player and stay under the Luxury Tax? Can someone confirm? @Jeff Fletcher ?

Does this mean Keuchel could really be in play on a one or two year deal?

Nope. The bonus is all paid in 2019.

And even if wasn’t, the AAV is always the total guarantee divided by the years. Period. 

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45 minutes ago, Dochalo said:

why designate money to bonus vs. salary?

I have wondered the exact same thing, and haven't been able to figure out an answer. It has no impact on AAV, presumably no impact on when and how much a player earns, and I cant see how it would have different tax implications (it is still income).

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1 hour ago, azmancini said:

Bonus money is taxed as supplemental income, therefore it’s  taxed at a higher rate than salary.

I am not a CPA, but I don't think this is accurate. If it were, why would anyone want a bonus? Why not just take it all as salary (or call it salary)?  

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Assuming Mike Trout claims New Jersey residency, not California, this indicates he would save money taking $20 million as a signing bonus instead of salary.



Taxing Signing Bonuses

The state in which a player lives has major tax effects on signing bonuses included in a contract, assuming proper language is included regarding the signing bonus. Signing bonuses are generally taxed based on a taxpayer’s resident state. This means if a player receives a signing bonus from your favorite team, the signing bonus is taxed in the state the player is a resident and not the state the team is located in. Depending on the circumstances, this can save a player millions of dollars in tax savings.

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37 minutes ago, RBM said:


Here is the Spotrac page. Not sure what the advantage is in the $20 M bonus. Was thinking the lower payroll/adjusted salary in 2019 could be used as a way to sign another player this year.

He is getting a bonus but it’s all paid this year. I don’t know why sportrac lists it that way. 

If his actual income was lower this year it could be used to sign someone... again, actual dollars, not AAV. But his actual income is still $36M. 

I don’t see any benefit to the team to doing it that way. Maybe it’s a tax advantage for Trout. Maybe he wants $20M up front for some other investment, instead of getting $3M every 2 weeks. 

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