TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mike Trout's payday might be on the way sooner rather than later.
The Angels are in "active" negotiations on a multiyear deal with their 22-year-old superstar, owner Arte Moreno said in a rare interview Friday morning.
"I think both sides really want to at least have a conversation," Moreno said while watching pitchers and catchers work out on the first day of spring training. "We've been in conversation and talking."
Moreno would not characterize how likely a deal is, or how quickly it could happen. Trout's agent, Craig Landis, also refused to comment.
"We're talking," Moreno said. "Obviously we love the player and the person."
Trout is not eligible for arbitration until 2015, and not eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season. As arguably the game's best all-around player, he is widely expected to sign a record-breaking deal, if he and the Angels can reach an agreement.
Moreno indicated it's best not to have negotiations drag much into the regular season.
"Typically you don't want to get to a situation where you have something hanging over you when you are playing," Moreno said. "Then the press and fans get into it. 'Why won't you do this and that?' To make a good long-term deal both sides have to meet. Obviously everyone has a different strategy."
It's not likely a deal would be signed before opening day, because it would then count against the Angels' 2014 payroll for Competitive Balance Tax calculations. The team's current payroll is about $15 million under the $189 million threshold for the CBT.
Moreno said he didn't give General Manager Jerry Dipoto a specific directive to stay under that figure this winter, but he wanted to keep the payroll manageable.
"Typically I don't like to be in a situation where you are spending so much over your budget that you are losing a lot of money," Moreno said. "You can't sell enough tickets to make it up."
Moreno said the Angels still could have spent money for a pitcher who would make a significant difference to the team's playoff hopes, though.
"Let's say a pitcher walked in here, Joe Blow, and he's 6-foot-5 and one of the best pitchers in baseball," Moreno said. "If we are going to lose some money on it, that's the investment you need to make because that's what you need to have. If you can find a No. 1 or No. 2 (starter), that's different than a No. 4 or No. 5. ... If something in spring training comes by or something comes by at the break, we have the financial resources to do it."
Moreno referred to past midseason acquisitions, such as the trades for Dan Haren and Zack Greinke, as "risks" that "didn't work, obviously because we didn't make the playoffs."
In July 2012, the Angels gave up three players for Greinke, who then signed with the Dodgers for $147 million after the season.
"At the time we thought we had an opportunity to sign him, but the number was so stupid for us," Moreno said.
Moreno also indicated he doesn't hold Manager Mike Scioscia entirely accountable for the club's recent four-year playoff drought, the longest Scioscia's 14-year tenure.
"You really try to dissect and say 'Did we give him enough pitching?'" Moreno said. "What happened to our bullpen? We brought in five pitchers last year, three starters and two bullpen guys and the two bullpen guys never made it out of spring training really. Then other injuries. I try to look more at the whole picture than say 'We are going to break down 14 years into X amount of wins.'"
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