Poor, rich Mike Trout.
Trout didn’t even get 24 hours of attention for agreeing to a contract extension worth $426.5 million over 12 years, the biggest deal in baseball. Nope. Now it’s all about Mookie Betts.
Trout, of course, doesn’t seek a lot of attention, and baseball types talk a lot about the East Coast bias that hangs over him. You know. Half the kids in America are asleep when Trout plays baseball. People never see him. That’s the Trout story.
So when Trout and the Angels erased all speculation this week about how big his paycheck would be when he would become a free agent two years down the road, the East Coast bias dutifully played itself out. Mike Trout gets $426.5 million. Old news. It’s been hours, after all. The real story here is Mookie Betts. Mookie plays in Boston. He’s the next big star that could get a contract extension before he becomes a free agent. Why, people are actually awake and watch him play.
The problem is that Betts, who played at Nashville’s Overton High School, doesn’t seem particularly interested in joining this contract extension talk. He’s talking more like a guy under the reserve clause. Let’s see how this year turns out. Then we’ll see how the next year turns out. Then when he actually has enough service time to become a free agent, well, we’ll see how that turns out, too. That’s been Betts’ tone.
And here’s a side note. Only Wednesday night did the Angels formally announce the $426.5 million deal that ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke on Tuesday.
In January, Betts and the Red Sox avoided arbitration by settling on a one-year $20 million contract.
After Bryce Harper got his $330 million deal as a free agent early this month, attention turned immdiately to the next potential big-money free agents, and they were, of course, Trout and Betts. Now Betts stands alone. But even after the Harper deal, the story was still about being two years away from free agency. Trout’s new deal ratchets up all the speculation about contract extensions before free agency. Sign ’em before you lose ’em is the new mentality.
But even when it was the Trout/Betts question, Betts didn’t seem to think much of it. When the Boston Globe asked Betts if he thought the Harper deal paved the road to Betts’ future, Betts replied, “Not really. We’re all different players. We all have different things that are important. Like I said, good for those guys. They deserve it. I’ll just continue to worry about what’s going on now.”
If anyone needed more proof of Betts’ approach, Joel Sherman of the New York Post broke the story this week that Betts turned down an eight-year, $200 million offer from the Red Sox following the 2017 season. Betts confirmed that story to reporters this week.
Further, Betts seemed to cover all the bases in his response to reporters about the Trout deal. According to a boston.com report, when asked about his take on the contract and his own path to a financial future, Betts replied, “I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.’’
Strange guy. We all want to know how much money he will make. Betts seems inclined to play baseball. Imagine that.
But we’re not alone. When Todd Zolecki of mlb.com asked Harper his reaction to the Trout deal, Harper replied, “I didn’t know the contract was coming. If you’re a team and can lock up a franchise guy like that, of course you want to be able to do that.
“When I talked to him this offseason it was like, man, I want to get as much as I can so that you can blow me out of the water pretty much. And he did. I’m excited for him. I’m excited for Mookie (Betts) to see what he gets when he goes about it. (Aaron) Judge as well.”
Meanwhile, Trout doesn’t seem to really need anyone’s attention. After all, he can sleep pretty well now.