It’s time. Point blank. The Los Angeles Angels need to deal Mike Trout and rebuild. It’s a layered dynamic that will already have people in Hollywood upset that their beloved American superhero isn’t in the future plans. It would have more substance if Mike Trout had ever been part of a team that won a playoff game. No playoff series, a single 9 inning, 27 out game. The Angels have only been to the postseason once during Trout’s time in the big leagues and was swept by the Royals. Losing one future Hall of Famer, if not two, will sting, but what is the definition of madness? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? What if you do the same thing thirteen times, as in the number of seasons without a postseason win with Trout in the Angels’ lineup?
Rumors of a possible Trout departure from Los Angeles started to become more than just water cooler talk on Sunday, when USA Today’s Bob Nightengale literally buried the lede and stated that 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 will remain in baseball purgatory with or without you. And while Trout is a bona fide superstar, when is the last time someone of his caliber in baseball or ever in sports was on the trade block when he wasn’t the best player on his team? It would 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 tied to how the Angels treat Trout’s, as the Japanese superstar is younger, better and perhaps most importantly, would demand more than Trout, or probably anyone else in baseball. if traded outside of Angel Stadium. There was a lot of debate this summer about whether the Angels would move on from Ohtani and cash in, but they didn’t and gave up more prospects. That gamble turned out to be absolutely wrong, as evidenced by the team’s gamble fire sale of players weeks later. With another opportunity to acquire valuable future prospects and fire a star, Los Angeles needs to correct course.
The blueprint for how the Angels should handle trout existed almost twenty years 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 in the 2004 offseason. Due to limited competition to acquire Rodriguez’s massive contract, the Yankees made money during a buyer’s market, with the rival Red Sox being one of the few other teams able to land the Hall of Famer. A similar market should exist for Trout, with four teams standing out as the ones with enough capital to acquire his services, while Trout’s personal interest in going to each of these teams is unknown. The Dodgers are popping up as a possibility, but their pursuit of Ohtani, as Clayton Kershaw’s form declines, sets a precedent and makes the Angels’ rivals unlikely. The same goes for the Astros, as it’s incredulous to think of Trout being traded to a division rival. That leaves Trout’s hometown team and history repeating itself.
Trout was born and raised in Cumberland County, New Jersey, a short drive to Philadelphia. The Phillies have amassed top talent in Bryce Harper and Trea Turner in recent years, but haven’t seen that result in postseason success. Trout would like to return “home,” so to speak, but stylistically, Philadelphia doesn’t make much sense for Trout as he tries to wrap up his career. Rounding out that foursome are the New York Yankees, who could use a new attraction after one of their most boring seasons in decades. The Bronx is usually, and certainly was, the epicenter of baseball last season with the pursuit of Aaron Judge. Adding Trout to the group makes sense for both parties, as the Yankees have a deep farm system and a huge bank account to land the future Hall of Famer. Trout says 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 assigned to assignment and traded for Jeff Francoeur, who helped the team sparingly Rangers’ first pennant team. Soriano spent two years in Texas before being sent to Washington himself for Brad Wilkerson and two others. It was the acquisition of Wilkerson that made Mark Teixeira expendable, leading to the Rangers’ trade with the Braves in 2007, where they acquired four players who 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 stay within earshot of two championships. Now the Angels are just a trout away from being in a similar spot to push those blocks over.