TEMPE, Ariz. >> Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout figures if he keeps producing like he did during his historic rookie season, he’ll be in line for a handsome raise soon enough.
The Angels renewed the contract of the AL Rookie of the Year for $510,000 on Saturday, just $20,000 above the major league minimum, prompting an angry response from Trout’s agent.
While Craig Landis said the renewal “falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract,” Trout took the high road before a morning workout at the Angels’ spring training complex on Sunday, repeatedly insisting that “I’m just happy to be in the lineup.”
“I mean, my time will come,” Trout said before a team meeting. “I just have to keep putting out numbers and concentrating on one thing, and that’s getting to the postseason.”
Trout had a base salary of $482,500 last year, when he hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs, and led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals. Trout was the run-away choice as the AL’s top rookie, earning a $10,000 bonus, and finished second to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in MVP voting.
Trout has 1 year, 70 days of major league service, which the Angels historically have place more weight upon than performance in renewing contracts. Teams are allowed to renew the contracts of unsigned players on their 40-man rosters from March 2-11.
There were 22 players whose contracts were finalized by the Angels on Saturday. The highest salary of those players went to first baseman and outfielder Mark Trumbo, who will make $540,000.
Trout likely will be eligible for arbitration after the 2014 season.
“During the process, on behalf of Mike, I asked only that the Angels compensate Mike fairly for his historic 2012 season, given his service time,” Landis said in a statement. “This contract falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract and I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process. Nonetheless, the renewal of Mike’s contract will put an end (to) this discussion.”
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, will make $750,000 this season under terms of the five-year deal he signed through 2015.
Harper hit .270 with 22 homers, 59 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 139 games last season.
Landis also made it seem that Trout was unhappy with a move to left field this season, which was designed to allow speedy Peter Bourjos to become the Angels’ primary center fielder.
“As when he learned he would not be the team’s primary center fielder for the upcoming season,” Landis’ statement said, “Mike will put the disappointment (of his salary) behind him and focus on helping the Angels reach their goal of winning the 2013 World Series.”
Trout acknowledged Sunday that he prefers center field, the position he’s played since the Angels selected him in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft. But he also said that he believes playing in left field will help him to become a more complete outfielder.
“I’m a center fielder, obviously,” Trout said. “But you know, when you’re an outfielder, you should be able to play all three. I think it’s going to help me get reads off the bat. It’s going to be a fun adjustment for me.”
During batting practice this spring training, Trout has made a habit of spending two days in left field and two days in center, often rotating on a daily basis. He said the idea was to remain sharp in center field while adjusting to left, where he mostly played late in games last season.
“My main position is center field, obviously. It’s definitely a different position than left field. But I just have to make an adjustment and go with the move,” he said. “I feel fine out there. Just getting into games, getting some experience out there will definitely help me.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Trout still will play center field, and that his versatility — his ability to play left — is one of the reasons he is so valuable.
“Mike is going to be a center fielder, no doubt. We understand that’s what’s his position,” Scioscia said. “But right now his versatility is something that’s going to make us a better team, and he will play some center field this year. He’s going to play left field, too.”