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Mike Trout – The Big Fish in a Small Pond

When we look at all baseball teams there is a disparity between the best players and the worse players on each team there simply can’t be a team with all stars in each position the salary cap dictates this. Players will normally fall under five categories. The up and comer still under team control still to receive his mega deal, the good but not superstar players that do a job but are never the star of the team, the free agent signings on shorter contracts normally when a player is coming towards the end of their career, the players who have not reached their potential taking a lower contract trying to have a great year in order to gain a bigger deal or the mega superstars who have now secured the big multi year deal where they normally look to see out the prime years of their career.

The smaller market teams are normally the teams that know that they won’t have the financial clout to keep the big players when it’s time to get paid so they either trade them while they still have trade value, or the player normally sees out his contract and tests free agency. This is why there are a lot of teams that either have a core of good players and prospects but no superstars or the bigger teams that have a few big superstars on big contracts with prospects, veterans and quality mid to upper lever players supplementing them. This is why the Los Angeles Angels are in quite a strange MLB position they are a team of players that are by no means poor (no player that reaches the big leagues is poor) but they are in general one of the poorer teams in MLB and have been for a few years now. They did have two genuine baseball superstars in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani but Ohtani left for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the off season and was realistically never going to stay with the Angels. This now leaves Mike Trout in the strange position of being a genuine top 10 player in baseball that will never achieve a shot of winning a world series as an Angels player.

 

Mike Trout first came up to the show on 8th July 2011 and played 40 games that year. He confirmed what many had thought about him by winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2012 and for his first 9 full years in the majors he only missed 144 games through injury or rest management. During that time, he won 3 AL Most Valuable Player awards in 2014, 2016 and 2019 he was also an all-star in each of these 9 seasons. A healthy Trout is basically one of the best players in baseball. Now if we look back at the departure of Shohei Ohtani who played for the Angels between 2018 and 2023 we had two of arguably the top ten players in baseball together and the Angels still got nowhere near a world series. In fact, the Angels have only made the post season once since Trout came up and they were not even the Los Angeles Angels then they were the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (they became the Los Angeles Angles in 2016). Individual awards are great and 3 MVP’s are nothing to be ashamed of, Trout has already achieved more than what 99% of players will never be able to put on their resume it is however criminal to think a player who has been so good for so many years will never get to sniff and reach the pinnacle of his sport if he stays at the Angels. On April 30th this year Mike Trout suffered a torn meniscus a month later he is still out and there is no timetable on a return yet. All that has been said is they expect Trout to be back at some point in 2024.

 

There is a distinct possibility that Mike Trout will never have a fully healthy season again he is now 32 and considering the shortened covid 2020 season hasn’t had a more than 500 plate appearance season since 2019. He signed a 12-year $426 million dollar contract in 2019 so there is plenty of time to run and when asked about a trade Trout has always maintained his loyalty to the Angels, he is not the type of player that would kick up the fuss and down tools and conceivably he will be an Angel for the entirety of his career. The Angels are not providing him with a team that matches his abilities after losing perhaps the best player in baseball in Ohtani. During the last off season the replacements that they brought in consolidate and back up the fact that the front office are not giving the Angels a playoff opportunity let alone a world series one. The main signing from the off season was pitcher Robert Stephenson signing a 3-year $33 million dollar deal and without sounding offensive this is not a replacement for Ohtani. I maintain If the Angels were a poor team with both Trout and Ohtani they are not going to be better coming into the start of 2024 with just Trout.

 

Trout started the season great before he landed on the IL he had posted figures of 10 home runs, 14 RBI’s and 6 stolen bases in just 29 games. There has never been an argument that Trout is not pulling his weight.

 

So, what is next for Trout he has arguably already hit his peak but when fit will still be a great player for at least the next few years at both the plate and in the field. Is there a possibility that the Angels will trade him, there is always the argument that if they can trade they can get rid of his salary or at least a good part of it (his salary still carries an AAV of $37,116,666). This is a massive chunk of payroll for a team that clearly has no ambitions to compete. There would surely be fan outrage after losing Ohtani last year and showing no desire to replace him how would the fans feel losing the other and only superstar the franchise has left. The only way the Angels front office could even look to justify a trade is to receive a massive hall of prospects and future potential superstars in exchange for Trout with a promise that the saved payroll could be used for free agents or to potentially invest in the team. There are many years of control left on Trout’s deal meaning any potential team would give the team trading for Trout a good amount of time with still one of the best players in the game.

 

What I would like to see though is that the if the lifelong Angel who is already on the path to having a hall of fame career with 376 home runs and nearly a 1000 RBI’s does get traded, he at least could be traded to a team with more ambition. A team that wants to win. The playoffs are a lottery. No one was predicting the Texas Rangers against the Arizona Diamondbacks last year in the World Series. If you don’t buy a ticket you’re not going to win the lottery. Quite frankly the Los Angeles Angels are not even attempting to approach the counter and Mike Trout deserves better.

 

Stats taken from baseball-reference.com

Contract stats taken from spotrac.com

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