"But then you think about it," he said. "Robinson Cano is a decade older than Trout and he just got $240 million. Trout is 22 years old and he's a better player than Cano right now."
Presumably Trout will be the better player for many years to come, based on his first two seasons, which have been unlike any others in the history of baseball. "He's like Babe Ruth, in how much better he is than the rest of baseball," said an evaluator. "If he stays healthy, buying Trout now is like buying Babe Ruth [at age 22]."
The Angels have the option of paying the modern-day Babe Ruth relative pennies in 2014, his last season before he becomes eligible for arbitration. Trout made minimum wage in 2012, and last year, the Angels bumped him to $510,000. By rule, they could do the same in 2014.
But the hammer will be passed over to Trout in 2015, after he becomes eligible for arbitration. The greatest first-time arbitration award belongs to Ryan Howard, who got $10 million in 2008, and given the passage of time and the fact that Trout has been demonstrably better than Howard as an overall player, evaluators expect Trout to obliterate Howard's record.
What's he worth already?
At the suggestion of editor Matt Meyers, we turned the Trout prism in another way to assess his value, and posed this question: If Trout was a free agent right now and told teams he would only sign a one-year deal, what would he get?
The responses to this purely hypothetical question, from club officials around MLB, invariably began with laughter Tuesday afternoon -- not at the mode of examination, but because the numbers would be so ridiculously enormous.