Did the Hamilton Signing Increase Mike Trout's Dollar Value?

With projections for the 2013 season coming out, all of them seem to agree (so far) on one thing: that Mike Trout will be the Angels best overall offensive player. As mentioned earlier this week, ZiPS is projecting an 8 WAR season for Trout. Read: another stellar season.

If we were to look at the Angels payroll as equating with worth, a different story would be told. Vernon Wells is scheduled to make the most money on the team next year with a salary just over $24 million dollars. That's followed by Josh Hamilton ($17.4), Jered Weaver ($16.2) and Albert Pujols at $16 million.

Clearly, Vernon Wells is not the Angels most valuable player. And if we are to believe the most recent projections, Josh Hamilton won't be either.

Fortunately for the Angels, Mike Trout isn't even arbitration eligible until 2015. So the Angels can keep Trout at a league minimum until then. We can probably assume that if Trout continues to play at a high-level, he'll be in for one of the largest arbitration pay-offs in the history of baseball in 2015. And who knows what he will be worth by 2017 when he becomes a free agent. This is all assuming he remains healthy and continues to play at a such a high-level.

Here's a question, though: if Trout continues to be the Angels most "valuable" player, then are they making Trout's arbitration years all that much more expensive by handing out huge contracts to players that Trout is better than?

The logic goes: if player A is making "X" amount but is not as good or "valuable" than player "B" then logic would have it that player B should make more money than player A.

This very well may become the case in Trout's first arbitration year. He might earn a yearly contract for that season that will exceed what Hamilton ($25.4 million) and possibly Pujols ($24 million) are scheduled to earn that year.

Clearly, this doesn't take into consideration the rising rate of free agent contracts, inflation, etc. What Josh Hamilton will be making in 2015 might not be worth as much as it is this year.

Also, it's pretty clear that the Angels and Arte Moreno are in a "win-now" mode. Looking to build a championship team now at almost any cost. So I am not too sure the Angels front-office or Mr. Moreno really care. It's nice to have money.

Plus, basing your free agent signings and the amount they are for around the "what-ifs" of two years into the future is probably not a smart way to run a team. At least a team like the Angels. Can you really operate in hopes of keeping the price of a player down? Of course not.

Interestingly, Tim Lincecum cashed in on a $18.5 million dollar arbitration year prior to the 2012 season. He asked for $22.5 million. Lincecum now makes more than any one on the Giants not named Barry Zito. Did the Giants purposely keep their payroll down a bit figuring that Lincecum's arbitration years would cost a pretty penny? It's worth contemplating.

Looking around at the magazine stands and the 2013 projections, Mike Trout is without a doubt the face of the Angels and predicted to be their best player on their team in 2013. So when handing out big contracts to players who are good to great but not as good as Trout, it is only making Mike Trout (insert caveats about health and continuing to be productive) all that more expensive.

Conclusion: 2015 might be one hell of a pay day for the Milville, New Jersey native. Putting a 2015 payroll that is already scheduled to be over $111 million dollars for nine players all that much more expensive.

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