TEMPE, Ariz. — Mike Trout has his first seven-figure contract. Up ahead is what figures to be a nine-figure deal.
"It feels good," Trout said Wednesday after agreeing to a $1 million, one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
The salary is the highest for a one-year major league contract for a player not yet eligible for arbitration who wasn’t coming to the big leagues from Japan or Cuba or wasn’t required to have a larger amount because of the maximum cut rule. Ryan Howard earned $900,000 with Philadelphia in 2007 and Albert Pujols with St. Louis in 2003.
Trout will become eligible for arbitration after this season and could become a free agent after the 2017 World Series. The sides are thought to be discussing an agreement through 2020 in the $150 million range.
Trout wouldn’t talk about the possibility of a multiyear contract.
"I just go out there to play the game," he said. "If the money is where it’s at, that’s where it’s going to be."
By agreeing to a one-year contract now with the 22-year-old, the Angels avoid having a long-term deal count toward their 2014 luxury tax payroll.
"It’s a landmark to do a $1 million with a two-plus player," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "I think it’s fitting and Mike’s earned that and we’re glad to provide that for him."
Trout was voted AL Rookie of the Year and finished second in MVP voting in 2012, when he hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs, and led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals. He was second again to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in MVP voting last year, when he batted .323 with a .432 on-base percentage, 27 homers, 97 RBIs and 33 steals.
"We thought his performance was exceptional," Dipoto said. "There are players that force you to break rules. What he did for two consecutive years forced us to break our own rule. His performance certainly merited us to do differently than any of the others."
Trout had a $482,500 salary as a rookie and earned a $10,000 bonus for winning Rookie of the Year. The Angels renewed his contract last year for $510,000 — just $20,000 above the major league minimum at the time.
"The Angels could have easily just done the same thing that they did last year," Trout said. "It makes you feel good inside. It makes you feel like they really want you here. It means a lot to me."
Because of the maximum cut rule, some players not eligible for arbitration have had higher salaries. Shortstop Jose Iglesias agreed to a deal with Detroit in January that pays $1.65 million while in the major leagues and $1,237,500 while in the minors. The major league base represents the maximum 20 percent cut from the average of the $8.25 million, four-year deal he completed.