Mike Trout says MLB players 'want to stay away from free agency' after two controversial offseasons

mike troutBrian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout said MLB players want to avoid free agency.
  • Trout was one of several big-name players to ink rich, long-term extensions with their teams this offseason, a stark contrast to the free agent market, which has been stagnant the last two years.
  • Trout wouldn't go as far as to say MLB has a "problem," saying only players would rather get extensions done early instead of lingering on the free agent market.

With what was once deemed the "hot stove" season suddenly going cold, MLB players may now be looking to get deals done before they ever hit the open market.

Following two controversial offseasons in which MLB teams watched their spending more closely, leaving free agents lingering on the market, this offseason saw several big-name players sign early extensions with their teams.

Read more: 'I have no idea what the hell is happening:' MLB's bizarre free agency has created a rift in the league and both sides are pointing fingers

No extension was bigger than Mike Trout's 12-year, $426 million extension with the Los Angeles Angels in March, locking up baseball's best player two years before he hit free agency.

While speaking to Business Insider to promote his partnership with BodyArmor, Trout said he believes players are now avoiding free agency.

Read more: MLB superstar Mike Trout talks dancing for commercials, signing the biggest contract in league history, free agency, and the Angels' season

"I think you see it nowadays with all these extensions," Trout told Business Insider. "People want to stay away from free agency."

Trout said free agency was "definitely in the back of my mind" when he decided to sign his extension with the Angels.

He noted that star players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper went un-signed until February. Machado eventually signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres, while Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, the biggest in league history until Trout's extension.

"They missed a little bit of spring training. I just think it was a tough few months for them. I don't think anybody wanted to go through what they were going through," Trout said, calling the situation "weird."

Meanwhile, several of baseball's biggest names have signed rich extensions with their teams since February.

  • Nolan Arenado agreed to an eight-year, $260 million contract extension with the Colorado Rockies.
  • Paul Goldschmidt agreed to a five-year, $130 million contract extension with the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Justin Verlander agreed to a two-year, $66 million contract extension with the Houston Astros.
  • Blake Snell agreed to a five-year, $50 million contract extension with the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Jacob deGrom agreed to a five-year, $137 million contract extension with the New York Mets.

"It's good for baseball. I think guys are getting what they deserve, and that's how it should be," Trout said.

As the free agent market has stagnated, some in the baseball world tossed around the word "collusion." Former agent and now Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen last year suggested owners were colluding.

This season, Alex Rodriguez flat-out said owners were "working closely together, obviously, and keeping these salaries down."

Read more: Alex Rodriguez suggests MLB owners are colluding to keep free agent salaries down

Trout wouldn't go as far as saying MLB has a "problem," but said teams should want to pay elite players like Machado and Harper.

"I don't wanna say a 'problem' ... I just think it's not right. Like I said, with Harper and Machado ... [teams] should wanna bid on a guy like that."

Trout was previously set to hit free agency in 2021, poised to be the biggest free agent perhaps in league history. Harper was already actively recruiting Trout to the Phillies, who are near Trout's hometown, Millville, New Jersey.

It is possible Trout could have gotten even more money as a free agent, but he ultimately decided to stay with the Angels for life, securing nearly half-a-billion in the process.

"I'm just happy, relieved that it's all done," he said.

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