As the baseball world patiently waits for the Angels and Mike Trout to do the right thing and agree to a lengthy and borderline ridiculous contract extension, there are other concerns that need to be addressed. In this new baseball landscape, just about every single All-Star-ish caliber player signs a contract extension that buys out at least one year of free agency.
Since the Angels went and pissed off Trout's agent by low-balling him in his contract renewal, that means they'll have to move on to a lesser target. That would be one Mark Trumbo.
Trumbo is actually the ideal extension candidate. He has made one All-Star team but is hardly a lock to ever make another one. He has some obvious holes in his game that create just enough doubt in his long-term outlook that he should be very anxious to cash in while he knows he still can. As a local boy and fan favorite, the Halos should also have a similar interest in getting him locked into a long-term deal. Besides, with their farm system the Angels need to do all that they can to secure players in their prime years rather than throwing more money after aging sluggers in decline, because that has worked out so well so far.
So what would Trumbo extension look like?
Let me first say that the assumption is that Trumbo would not sign a contract until after the 2013 season or very close to the end of it. With that out of the way, here are a few comparable players to Trumbo that signed a contract extension in the last three years:
Figures derived from data at Baseball-Reference.com
CONTROL YRS LEFT
FA YEARS BOUGHT
4 yrs, $30M
3 yrs, $26.5M
5 yrs, $32M
5 yrs, $31M
6 yrs, $51M
4 yrs, $37.5M
The two examples that immediately jumped to mind when considering an extension for Trumbo were the deals signed just before the season by Goldschmidt and Craig. Both of which are upcoming players like Trumbo, but not quite stars. They both are also slugging first basemen and craig, like Trumbo, can play other positions. The problem though is that both players signed a year before Trumbo would. That sort of throws the scale out of whack, though not by much. But if you lop off the last pre-arbitration year, both basically make four years and $30 million over the span Trumbo would likely sign for. That is virtually identical to the contract Butler signed, but he didn't have the same career WAR as Trumbo, who is on pace to have an approximate 8.5 career WAR by season's end, though he Butler much younger.
That is an important note to make, by the way. The Angels would likely only want to buy out one year of free agency unless they get a substantial discount. The reason being is that Trumbo is older than most of these guys signing deals. Trumbo would be signing for the start of his age 28 season, which makes him a bit old for such a deal. Given that he is a big guy who thrives on power but strikes out a lot and doesn't have much defensive value, he is unlikely to age well. Going for a five-year deal rather than a four-year pact would be a gamble since it would be giving him arguably his largest annual salary for his age 32 season. And let's not forget that Trumbo has ended the last two seasons nursing semi-major injuries, so he isn't exactly a model of durability.
With the examples of Butler, Goldschmidt and Craig, it seems like the figure the Halos would zero in on is around four years, $30 million. That is pretty great for the kind of production that Trumbo has proven capable of. It also isn't such a large amount that the Angels would get burned if his plate discipline issues cause him to deteriorate quickly.
The question is if either side would be interested in such a deal. One has to assume that Trumbo would be interested as he is literally a hometown hero. He grew up in Anaheim dreaming of being an Angel. That should make him more than amenable to a deal, possibly even with a hometown discount on that $30 million and/or a team-friendly team option for a fifth year tacked on, allowing him to stay in Anaheim longer but without the added risk to the Halos of adding a guaranteed year to the deal.
As for the Angels, the desire to make such a deal happen isn't quite as clear. Cost certainty is nice, but with Arte Moreno's fat wallet, it isn't a necessity. They already have Trumbo under team control for through the 2015 season, so they are guaranteed to have him during his prime production years. The main motivation would be for them to remove the risk of Trumbo and his great work ethic working himself into a legit MVP contender. That really isn't all that far-fetched given his home run power and the media's obsession with dingers. One 40-homer year with a .280+ average and suddenly those arbitration years can get pretty expensive. Now that is a pretty nice motivator to lock the Trumbo up.
This almost makes too much sense for it not to happen. We'll likely have to wait until this off-season when most extensions happen though, especially since it would be in such poor taste to negotiate another big contract in the midst of an Angel slump that has been brought about by several of the other players with big contracts failing to live up to their paycheck.