The Los Angeles Angels pulled a blockbuster move this past weekend, securing the talents of Mike Trout for three additional free agent years by signing him to a six-year, $144.5 million contract. That sounds fairly insane given that Trout just started his third season in the league and is making just $1 million this season in his final pre-arbitration season. Then again, no player has had a better start to his career than just about anyone in baseball history, so there has yet to be a precedent for a player of his caliber. Over the last three years, Trout is tied with Miguel Cabrera for the most FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement in baseball, but Trout has only played two seasons.
This all led to esteemed colleague and Marlin Maniac lead editor Ehsan Kassim to say this to me over the weekend.
Pretty sure the Cabrera and Trout extensions took Giancarlo even more out of the Marlins price range. He won't make quite what they got, but he's going to be the best hitter available on the market for a while
Giancarlo Stanton is also due a potential contract extension, either from the Miami Marlins or from an acquiring team via trade. The Fish have interest in signing Stanton, and Stanton has interest in signing as well. Both sides, however, needed to consider each other's concerns about the long-term future of the partnership. So Miami and Stanton decided to table potential discussions until the end of next year, when it is highly likely that the team will opt to trade its best hitting prospect since Miguel Cabrera away and close the door on this latest chapter of Marlins baseball.
This seemed especially likely after Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman earned a huge eight-year extension that seemed prime to price Miami out of the Stanton sweepstakes. You see, Freeman and Stanton were actually solid comparison points given how similar their careers have been up to this point in terms of overall value. Stanton is assuredly the more high-profile, potential star player, but Freeman has his merits and is coming off the better season. Freeman's eight-year, $135 million contract should then be a barometer to the type of deal that Stanton eventually earns.
But unlike Ehsan, I do not believe that Trout's new contract has changed the Stanton-Marlins dynamic at all. The difference between Freeman's deal and Trout's is in magnitude; that is, Trout is a significantly better player than either Freeman or Stanton, and that leaves him in a different stratosphere and his own bubble with regards to his contract. Trout is on a historic pace very few players have ever matched; he was going to earn millions more than Stanton and Freeman did when they began arbitration-style contracts this year. Comparing a player who has been at such a different level does not change the baseline that Stanton is currently at.
Trout's new deal may actually be a steal and lower Stanton's offer. Consider that Trout is likely earning something like $30 million a year in his first three free agent seasons. Freeman is set to earn $21 million a year on average during the free agent years of his contract, around what Stanton migh receive. Would anyone argue that, going forward, Giancarlo Stanton and Freddie Freeman are only 1.5 wins worse than Trout as free agents in three to four years? That would be how the math works out according to the current value of a win, slated at at least $6 million per win.
Of course, it is much more likely that Stanton's situation essentially ignores the mammoth (and yet still steal-worthy) numbers that Trout is set to earn. The baseline for Stanton's deal has yet to change; Miami will have to offer more free agent years because it waited longer than the Freeman situation, and the team will likely have to pay more per year as well thanks to Stanton's reputation. What would a contract offer look like right now? Consider that the Marlins add seven or eight free agent years to the final two arbitration seasons. The Fish could offer something like a nine-year, $179 million contract or a ten-year, $201 million deal.
What say you, Fish Stripers? Would the Marlins be even willing to make such an offer? Is Stanton worth that price of admission? What do you think of Trout's new contract? Let us know in the comments section!