Mike Trout was observing the events of this offseason closely.
He watched as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, two of the game's brightest stars, waited until well into spring training before signing contracts. Harper and Machado were just two of the high-profile free agents who had problems finding work this winter, and some - such as All-Star pitchers Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel - are still on the sidelines mere days from Opening Day.
Though it wasn't the only factor in Trout's decision to sign a landmark 12-year, $426.5-million extension with the Los Angeles Angels, watching his fellow players struggle to find work certainly played into his decision.
"If we hadn't gotten a deal done it would have been tough for me," Trout said Sunday, according to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic. "I obviously wanted to be here. I said I want to deal with it now. If not I'm gong to explore free agency. I didn't want to go through the next few seasons thinking, 'Am I going to get a deal or not?'
"I kind of saw what Bryce and Manny went through and it drew a red flag for me. I talked to Manny and Bryce. It was a tough couple months in the offseason. They put it (in) perspective in my mind."
Until he finally inked the extension, Trout's future in Anaheim had been the subject of much speculation. The Angels have only made the playoffs once with Trout on the roster - they were swept in the 2014 ALDS - and the team's inability to put a sustained winner around him led to belief that he'd move closer to his native New Jersey in 2020 and join Harper in Philadelphia.
Although he acknowledged that the possibility of leaving crept into his mind, the 27-year-old never went as far as envisioning himself in another uniform.
"I think if I waited two years, it wouldn't have felt right moving to another team, going straight to a winning team," Trout told Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times. "Teams go through ups and down. I want to be a part of everything."
"I think spending your career with one team is pretty cool," he added. "That was definitely on my mind. ... Being here my whole career, being here 12 more years, that means a lot to me.
"If I did leave, looking back I'd have some regret."