It’s time. Point blank. The Los Angeles Angels need to deal Mike Trout and rebuild. It’s a layered dynamic that’ll have people around Hollywood already upset that their beloved American superhero doesn’t figure into future plans. It’d have more substance if Mike Trout had ever been a part of a team that has won a playoff game. Not a playoff series, a single, 9-inning, 27-out game. The Angels have only been to the postseason once in Trout’s big-league tenure and got swept by the Royals. Losing a future Hall of Famer, if not two, will sting, but what’s the definition of lunacy? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? What if you do the same thing 13 times, as in the number of seasons without a postseason victory with Trout in the Angels’ lineup?
Rumors of a possible exit for Trout from Los Angeles started being more than just water-cooler talk on Sunday, when USA Today’s Bob Nightengale literally buried the lede and stated Los Angeles is open to the idea of trading the 32-year-old Trout if he wants out. And why wouldn’t the 11-time All-Star want a change of scenery? The Angels are either going to continue to be in baseball’s purgatory with or without you. And although Trout is a bonafide superstar, when’s the last time in baseball, if ever in sports, has someone of his caliber been on the trading block while not being the best player on his team? It’d be the equivalent of the Golden State Warriors shopping Klay Thompson in 2018, minus all the postseason success and baseball’s lack of marketable stars.
Shohei Ohtani’s future will be linked with how the Angels treat Trout’s, as the Japanese superstar is younger, better, and maybe most importantly, would demand more than Trout, or probably anyone else in baseball, if traded away from Angel Stadium. It was highly debated this summer whether the Angels would move on from Ohtani and cash in, but they didn’t and gave up more prospects. That gamble proved to be the absolute wrong one, evidenced by the team’s fire sale of players weeks later. With another chance to gain valuable prospects for the future and offload a star, Los Angeles needs to course-correct.
The blueprint for how the Angels should handle Trout already exists from nearly two decades ago. Case in point: The Texas Rangers and Alex Rodriguez. Both A-Rod and Trout won MVPs on terrible teams, although Rodriguez was 28 when he was traded during the 2004 offseason. Due to the limited competition to take on Rodriguez’s massive contract, the Yankees cashed in during a buyers’ market, with the rival Red Sox being one of the only other teams in a position to court the should-be Hall of Famer. A similar market should exist for Trout, with four teams sticking out as ones with enough capital to attain his services, with Trout’s personal interest in going to each of these teams unknown. The Dodgers pop up as a possibility, but their pursuit of Ohtani, with Clayton Kershaw’s form waning, takes precedent and makes the Angels’ in-state rivals unlikely. Same with the Astros, as it’s an incredulous thought to think Trout gets traded to a division rival. That leaves Trout’s hometown team and history repeating itself.
Trout was born in and grew up in Cumberland County, New Jersey —a quick drive to Philadelphia. The Phillies have loaded up on top-end talent in recent years with Bryce Harper and Trea Turner, but haven’t seen that result in postseason success. Trout could be keen on returning “home” so to speak, but stylistically, Philadelphia doesn’t make much sense for Trout as he tries to wind down his career. Rounding out that foursome is the New York Yankees, who could use another attraction after one of their most boring seasons in decades. The Bronx usually is, and definitely was, the epicenter of baseball last season with Aaron Judge’s home run chase. Adding Trout to the fold makes sense for both sides, as the Yankees have a deep farm system and a huge bank account to pull in the future Hall of Famer. Trout saying yes to pinstripes seems to be the only red flag. [Ed. note: The Yankees signing stars past their prime or offering long-term deals to injury-prone players — where have I seen that before?]
Rodriguez joined the Evil Empire in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquín Árias. The latter was with the team until 2010 when he was designated for assignment and traded for Jeff Francoeur, who sparingly helped the Rangers’ first pennant team. Soriano spent two years in Texas before being dealt himself to Washington for Brad Wilkerson and two others. It was the acquisition of Wilkerson that made Mark Teixeira expendable, leading to the Rangers’ 2007 trade with the Braves where they acquired four players that would help them make back-to-back World Series appearances. It was a domino effect of a rebuild to make the right personnel decisions to be within earshot of two championships. Now, the Angels are only a Trout departure away from being in a similar spot to push those blocks over.