Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera Who Is Really The Better Value?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This week, Major League Baseball saw arguably its two best players get handsomely rewarded with big-time contract extensions. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim extended for the second time this offseason their star outfielder Mike Trout. Just before that deal went down, the Detroit Tigers locked up their cornerstone piece in Miguel Cabrera for the next decade. While both players got excellent deals, which team wound up with the better end of the deal?

The Trout deal is for six years, $144.5 million whereas Cabrera will earn $248 million over eight years. For the Angels, it is their third hefty contract currently on the books. Albert Pujols has a 10-year, $240 million deal, and Josh Hamilton owns a five year, $125 million deal. The city of angels has also become the city of deep pockets with LA also seeing pitcher Clayton Kershaw bank a seven year, $215 million deal with the Dodgers. Will all of this spending be worth it for the respective franchises?

If you ask any player or owner, the ultimate goal is to win a World Series championship. But does locking up all of this money into one player or a few players result in a title? The New York Yankees are the token franchise that strives to buy rings, but even they have only captured one trophy in the last 13 seasons. Of the five players above, only Pujols has claimed World Series glory, but that was with a different team under a lesser contract. While it is great to have the big bucks, and they are well deserved, it does not always compute to the ultimate payout.

Starting next season, Trout will make $5.25 million for his age 23 season.

After that:

  • 2016 – $15.25 million – 2017 – $19.25 million
  • 2018 – $33.25 million – 2019 – $33.25 million
  • 2020 – $33.25 million in his age 28 season.

For Cabrera:

  • 2015 at age 32 $22 million
  • 2016-2017 – $28 million
  • 2018-2021 – $30 million
  • 2022-2023 – $32 million
  • 2024-2025 – $30 million for his age 42 season.

Over the next few season, both Hamilton and Pujols will both make over $25 million until Hamilton becomes free agent eligible after the 2017 season. After that, the Angels will still be paying $27, $28, $29, and $30 million dollars respectively each season to Pujols as he will be entering his late 30s, and early 40s. Even though Pujols has championship pedigree, is $30 million at age 40 a wise investment for a franchise?

Over the course of the same time, Kershaw will make over $30 million up until the 2020 season. At that time he will be 32 years old, but he only plays every fifth day. Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher going right now, but devoting that much money once a week may not be the best investment for a championship. He is already experiencing discomfort one start into the mega deal, and could be heading for a stint on the DL. That is not exactly what the Dodgers had in mind for their mega purchase.

Cabrera is the two-time reigning MVP and his contract at signing is the highest average annual value in history surpassing Alex Rodriguez. On the field, that has awarded Rodriguez a combined one championship. Cabrera has evolved into a tremendous hitter, but again $30 million could likely diminish at age 42.

On paper, Trout and the Angels appear to have gotten the better deal. In the immediate future, he will earn more money than Cabrera, but when the contract is up, Trout will still only be 28. If all goes according to plan, Trout could still land a 12-year deal making in the range of $35 million during his late 30s and at age 40 the way contracts are evolving within the sport.

Trout’s first two seasons have been something not accomplished by many. He now has the money to validate his successes, and by the books, seems to be smart money to boot.


For more MLB News and Updates Follow OPSN’s Nick Schaeflein @ptchr2424


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1. This is not an apples to apples comparison. Cabrera’s FIRST deal with the Tigers v. the current Trout deal with the Angels is a better comp.

Tigers will certainly benefit from Cabrera’s brand in Detroit. People go to Boston to see the Freedom Trail. People go to Chicago to see Michigan Avenue. People go to Detroit to see Cabrera.

Trout is just one of many megastars in the LA area. He is not even on the most prominent/popular team in the city. The positive impact on the team’s revenue specifically is much greater for the Tigers v. the Angels.

2. Cabrera will be 40 years old (not 42) when his contract ends. [Not counting the relatively hard to reach vesting options]. That is a full 2 years younger than Pujols, when his contract ends.

3. Getting a championship is luck, much more so than getting into the playoffs. If Cabrera did not have a torn groin last October, the narrative would likely be a lot different.

Cabrera has a WS ring from 2003 in Florida

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