Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout celebrated his 26th birthday in style yesterday. Not only did he get his 1,000th career hit via a double down the left field line, but he also hit his 23rd home run of the season in the Angels’ 6-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
This is just another sign that Angels GM Billy Eppler needs to trade his team’s star, hard as that may be for anyone to stomach. The fact of the matter is that the Angels are not in any position to contend for a playoff spot, let alone a championship, in the near future and need to restock their minor league system.
If Eppley wants to do that to the best of his ability, he’ll dangle Trout this offseason and listen to all potential offers.
The good news for the Angels is that moving Trout from a contractual standpoint should be fairly easy. He has three years remaining on the six-year, $144.5 million contract he signed in 2014, an absolute steal given what he has done in his career.
The only hangup, in this case, would be Trout’s annual salary over the rest of the deal. Trout is earning $19.25 million this year and gets a $14 million raise starting in 2018. $33.25 million is a lot for any team to commit to one player, be it the Angels or another squad, and it doesn’t matter that the player in question is Mike Trout.
But the fact of the matter is that for three years of team control and the stats Trout is sure to put up, regardless of what uniform he is wearing, $33.25 million a year is well worth the price. This is someone who has been named to six All-Star teams, is a two-time MVP, and a former AL Rookie of the Year.
Trout is batting .346 this season with 23 home runs, 52 RBI and 13 stolen bases, and that’s after missing a month with a torn thumb ligament. One can only imagine what his stats would be like had he not been injured, so there shouldn’t be any hesitation about paying his salary, be it on one’s own or with the Angels’ help.
The return package
Make no bones about it, the return package will be what determines whether the Angels trade Trout or not. No disrespect to prospects Jordon Adell, Jahmai Jones, and Jaime Barria, but the entire team’s minor league system could use some restocking. Not a single Angels prospect made MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list and though some of the team’s youngsters do have potential, a minors makeover could be necessary.
That said, if Trout is to be traded, the Angels will not settle for anything less than a perfect return package. This includes one or two top prospects on the verge of being MLB ready, not to mention some established major league talent as well.
Keep in mind, this isn’t like when the Texas Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees many years ago. That deal was Texas admittedly looking to unload the star shortstop’s contract and even pay some of the remaining balance, so they were more than happy to take both Alfonso Soriano and infield prospect Joaquin Arias from the Yankees.
The Angels hypothetically trading Trout would be a much different scenario. The whole purpose of trading him would be not just to unload his salary, but to ensure a successful future for the team. Yes, the argument can be made that a non-contender like the Angels can’t demand top prospects when they are still a few years away from even sniffing the playoffs, but the player in question is Mike Trout. He could well be the best player in baseball today and for years to come, so he will not come cheap, nor should he.
Just which team lands him is another story altogether. Perhaps the Los Angeles Dodgers could use their deep system to make an offer for him, but that all depends on front office head Andrew Friedman. His team is the best in baseball without Trout, so he also doesn’t really need to pull the trigger.
Or maybe the Boston Red Sox can strike a deal for him, so long as they can also retain key players like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts.
The fact remains that Trout is Trout, and he’s not showing any signs of decline or aging. At age 26, he is far from finished and Angels management knows that.
Thus, with the team 55-58 and 17 games out of first place in the AL West, there is little reason to believe an epic turnaround will happen this year or the next.
The long and short of it is that it’s time to sell high on Trout, and the sooner the better.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?