We're still weeks away from meaningful baseball games, but Mookie Betts' projected value in free agency continues to rise.
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The Los Angeles Angels are finalizing a gargantuan 12-year contract extension with outfielder Mike Trout worth more than $430 million total, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Tuesday.
That's an average annual salary of $35.8 million, smashing Zack Greinke's previous record of $34.4 million per year and making Trout the highest-paid player in baseball by both annual salary and total contract worth.
Trout and Betts, both former American League MVPs and generational talents, both were set to become free agents in 2020 and launch historic bidding wars for their services.
But the Angels reportedly got ahead of the game Tuesday -- and in the process set a target for Betts to shoot for in free agency.
We already knew the Boston Red Sox outfielder would be within his right asking for a deal north of $350 million after Bryce Harper's 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
With Trout re-upping the bar to $430 million, though, Betts has a case to earn at least $400 million total or at least $35 million per year if he desires a shorter deal. Even if you think Trout is the best player in baseball, you could argue Betts is right behind him: Both players have very similar career 162-game averages at the plate, while Betts has three Gold Gloves to Trout's zero.
The timing of Trout's reported extension is important, as well. Betts signed a one-year, $20 million extension with Boston in January, but do the Red Sox try to follow the Angels' blueprint and lock up their superstar to a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent in 2020?
If they don't, they'll have to compete on the open market for one of the best players in the game -- and put a Trout-like contract on the table to convince Betts to stay in Boston.
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