The Angels signed Trout to a one-year, $1-million contract, avoiding the rancor of the renewal process and setting the stage for agreement on a long-term extension.
By setting Trout's 2014 salary now, the Angels can start the long-term deal in 2015. That enables the Angels to avoid a luxury-tax assessment this season.
The Angels could have unilaterally renewed Trout's contract this year as they did last year, when they paid him $510,000 and triggered an angry statement from his agent. The club and Trout are negotiating a deal reportedly in the range of six years and $150 million.
Such a deal would enable the Angels to buy out three years of free agency and would enable Trout to test the market at 29.
Still, as Trout noted, the Angels had the right to pay him whatever they wanted this year. That the sides agreed, rather than the Angels imposing a lesser salary, pleased him.
"It feels good," he said. "The Angels could have easily done the same thing they did last year. … It makes you feel good inside. It makes you feel like they want you here. It means a lot."
The Angels are optimistic about completing the long-term deal, although Trout, agent Craig Landis and General Manager Jerry Dipoto all declined to discuss that Wednesday.
"No comment," Trout said. "Good try, though."
The Angels could pay Trout whatever they liked above the major league minimum this year, and last, because he has fewer than three years of major league service. If he and the Angels do not complete the long-term deal, Trout would be eligible for salary arbitration for the first time next season.
It is unclear how Trout's annual salary would vary in the long-term deal under discussion, but it is believed the negotiations are more fluid regarding the value of the arbitration years than the free-agent years.
In arbitration, a player can cite historical accomplishments to appeal for a salary considerably higher than players of similar experience.
Trout, 22, finished second in American League most-valuable-player voting in each of his first two full seasons. He is one of four players to hit .320 with 50 home runs and 200 runs in his first two full seasons. The others: Pujols, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.
Trout and Willie Mays are the only players with two seasons that included a .320 batting average, 25 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Trout did it in his first two full seasons.
Dipoto called the one-year deal with Trout a "landmark."
"I think it's fitting," Dipoto said. "I think Mike has earned it. We're glad to provide it. He's an extraordinary player."
When the Angels renewed Trout's contract last season, Dipoto cited the Angels' enforcement of a salary scale for players not yet eligible for arbitration. The Angels tore up the scale for Trout this season.
"There are players that force you to break a rule," Dipoto said. "What Mike did for two consecutive years forced us to break a rule."
Twitter: @BillShaikinCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun