Angel for Life?
For at least the past 5 years, there has been a unanimous pick for the best baseball player in the world and his name is Mike Trout. He plies his trade in Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but a constant point of debate among MLB experts is whether Trout would one day leave the Angels for a bigger team with a richer history like the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. However, he recently signed a contract extension, thus reaffirming his commitment to the Angels. But something like that wouldn’t ever dissuade MLB franchises with deeper pockets like the aforementioned Yankees or Red Sox. So the Angels obviously want to make a statement of intent to assure Trout of their undying commitment to him. So what’s their response?
How about something that’s never been done in the MLB and rarely in all of sports: a lifetime contract. Obviously, this wouldn’t be a bad investment by any means (Trout is already a surefire Hall of Famer despite only reaching the playoffs once through 8 seasons), but is this really a route the Angels are willing to go down? Also, could this start a trend across the league?
Any kind of contract like this would obviously be monumental in its value. Trout already makes $33.25 million/year after signing his latest contract extension, so the annual value of this contract would likely be larger. So would the Angels really want to shell out at least $35 million/year for at least the next 10-12 years? To be honest, if we were talking about any other player, I would immediately laugh at the insanity of such an idea and say no. But this is Mike Trout we’re talking about. He’ll likely go down as the greatest position player to ever play, at least from a statistical standpoint, and maybe the greatest player in general. Obviously, the Angels should do whatever they can to make sure he stays permanently, as retaining Trout not only makes sporting sense, it makes fiscal sense. There’s no question that he puts butts in seats and along with the addition of the sensational Shohei Otani, Angels Stadium will likely be sold out for years to come.
But what about other teams and other great players? Could this potentially start a trend of teams dealing out lifetime contracts to their best players to make sure they never leave? For instance, the Atlanta Braves have several young upstarts who have revolutionized the team, making them a seemingly perennial playoff threat for years to come. Leading the charge is Ronald Acuña Jr., perhaps the best rookie to come to the league since Trout himself. Could the Braves decide in 6-7 years’ time to give him a lifetime contract and keep him in Atlanta for his entire career? Only time will tell, but the honor of a lifetime contract should be reserved for only the cream of the cream of the crop, like Mike Trout.