Monday was Opening Day, and it didn’t take long for Mike Trout to reaffirm the trajectory of his meteoric rise from touted rookie to best player in the game of baseball. Although it is rare for even the top sluggers in the game to hit a homerun on their first at bat of the year, somehow it didn’t feel unexpected when Mike Trout opened his season with a blast to left field. Not much comes as a surprise anymore when Mike Trout is involved.

I have spoken of my belief that with the escalation of contracts in baseball today, Trout could not only be the first 10-year, $300 million player, but he would also deserve that money.

It turns out that I was at least half wrong, as Miguel Cabrera beat Trout to the milestone, agreeing to a 10-year, $292 million extension with the Tigers. Cabrera’s play the last few seasons has been up there with the all-time greats, and as such, the back-to-back AL MVP is as worthy of the contract he received as anyone else.

However, this is a deal that will cost the Tigers in the long run. In the MLB, elite players give their best years when they are young and cheap; after that their value goes up while their production goes down. The big contract essentially amounts to back pay, and when a new team signs the player, his original team that got the impressive production cheaply doesn’t have to foot the bill.

Cabrera is less than a month away from his 31st birthday, an age that has shown steady drop-off for many top free agents in the past few years — particularly in the case of Trout’s teammates Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. And for a 31-year-old, Cabrera’s body has seen more mileage than most; the latter third of last season saw Miggy slowed by chronic foot injuries that seriously hampered his play. Presumably, such occurrences will only be more likely as age creeps up on him.

A day after Cabrera received his massive deal, Trout finally reaped the rewards of his performance the past few years by signing an extension with the Angels worth $144.5 million over six years. It wasn’t the record pay out that Trout might have earned in free agency a few years from now, but upon further inspection, Trout is most likely better off with the deal he got.

To start with, Trout just guaranteed himself $144.5 million after only two seasons of play, and as such has given himself ample insurance money in case of a career-threatening injury — something that could have been a catastrophic occurrence before free agency if he had not gotten the extension.

But the deal also holds up under the assumption that Trout’s development continues on its current trajectory. Trout is just 22 years old, and thus will be up for another contract when he is 28. This would put him right in the middle of his prime — a prime that could potentially be among the all-time greats. Assuming that the current free-agent market trends do not change drastically in the next few years, Trout will almost certainly be able to demand the sort of contract that Cabrera just received, or perhaps even more.

This was a truly fantastic deal for Mike Trout, who is making more money than anyone his age has ever made before playing baseball.

It was also a great move on the part of the Angels. Usually, the team that brings up a superstar either has him under a long contract from the beginning, or is able to negotiate an expensive but acceptable extension before the player reaches the highest echelon of players in the game.

Trout’s situation did not allow the Angels either of these options; his contract only ran for another three seasons, and he shot straight past the all-star level to MVP-caliber play within his first year in the league. By securing Trout for six years and $144.5 million, the Angels were able to acquire Trout’s best years without having to cripple their payroll later in order to shell out a record contract.

All in all, this contract is a win-win, and now Mike Trout only has to worry about raising the extraordinarily high bar he has already set for himself.

Darius Majd is a junior in the College. The Sporting Life appears every Friday.

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