The greatest player to ever wear a Los Angeles Angels jersey will become a free agent in 2020 and with his impending free agency looming, the Angels’ window is closing to extend the once-in-a-generation talent.
Mike Trout’s greatness over the course of the last eight seasons with the Angels has gone unmatched in the history of Major League Baseball and the superstar will enter free agency in two years, still in the prime of his Hall of Fame career, and will undoubtedly draw the largest free agent contract in the history of the game.
For the rare few that are unfamiliar with the name Mike Trout, Trout has done things in Major League Baseball that we have never seen before and may never see again. The two-time MVP and the four-time MVP-runner up won the Rookie of the Year in 2012 and has not stopped doing unthinkable things on the field since. Trout’s astonishing 64.3through age 26 is the highest ever for a position player, just ahead of Ty Cobb with a total of 63.4. Trout’s worst OPS+ in a season was 168, which came in 2014, his first MVP season and to put that into perspective, a 100 OPS+ is league average. Trout’s down years are still All-Star caliber and he has cemented his place in Cooperstown before he is even eligible to be elected.
More and more talks have taken place regarding whether or not the Halos can keep the perennial star or if they were to lose the best player of a generation following the record-breaking signings of Manny Machado (10-years, $300 Million) and Bryce Harper (13-years, $330 Million) and with every single day that Trout is not extended, the likelihood of him leaving the only team he has ever known grows more and more ominous.
Trout has not been of much help as far as his take on the matter, dodging any and every question he gets regarding the possibility of an extension, free agency, or even a trade.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” Trout said in an interview this Spring. “Just trying to come in and get ready for spring, get ready for the season. I don’t want to comment on that.”
One of the biggest reasons Angels fans fear that Trout will leave is the fact that the Angels have only succeeded in getting Trout to the playoffs once in his eight-year career. In 2014, the Angels had the best record in baseball and went into the Postseason as heavy favorites before being swept in three games by the Wild Card Game winning Kansas City Royals. Kansas City would go on to lose the World Series that year and win it the next against the New York Mets. As for the Angels, they have failed to make the playoffs since their fantastic 2014 campaign and this can’t be going over well with Trout, regardless of how much he downplays it.
“I don’t want to comment on that,” Trout said on the matter. “But like I said, I enjoy it here. I’m having fun. Obviously, losing is not fun, but I enjoy playing this game. I leave it out on the field every night, every day and I go from there.”
The Angels are desperately trying to put a winner around Trout to give him an extra incentive to stay and while Trout understands this, it clearly has not been working.
“Each year since Billy’s been here, he’s been bringing in guys that improve the team. That’s all you can ask for,” Trout said. “Obviously, we weren’t where we wanted to be the last few years, but it’s like a puzzle, trying to bring in guys that fit this team. We’ve brought a bunch of veteran guys in, and we’ll see where it goes. I come here, and I can only do what I can do. But bringing in new faces, it’s good.”
There have been reports that the Angels have considered offering Trout a 10-year, $350 million extension, but there have been no reports of the offer being presented to Trout.
“I would probably say that we are in discussions [internally],” Angels owner Arte Moreno said. “In one of the last interviews I gave, I said it’s not in the back of our mind, but it’s in the front of our mind. I think it also depends a little bit on the agent and the player. So it’s not just us. We try to stay in communication with how they are feeling.”
The fact of the matter is that the Angels need to sign Trout to an extension as soon as possible regardless of cost or other obstacles that may arise as a result. There are a plethora of reasons why this is a no brainer for the Angels.
The main reason why the Angels as a franchise and a business should keep Trout is the value on and off the field that he brings to the team. Trout’s average batting statistics include a 9.2 WAR with 30 home runs a .307 batting average, 23 stolen bases, .416 on-base percentage, and a .989 OPS. These are just average statistics for Trout while many All-Stars can only hope to put up a season like this once every few years. What Trout brings to the field is incredible and he makes Angels baseball easier to watch.
If you didn’t already think he was valuable enough on the field, then let’s talk about Trout’s value from a business standpoint. Trout has been worth roughly $493 million to the Angels over the past eight-year according to FanGraphs. The tremendous profit the Angels have made off of the greatness of Mike Trout makes it so that they can not lose regardless of contract size.
After 2020, the Angels will have finished paying Trout the $144,500,000 he is owed for the last six years, meaning that they are playing with house money. The profit they have garnered from Trout far outways the cost. These days it is all about ROI (return on investment) and Trout is the best investment in baseball regardless of how you look at it.
Rumors that the Phillies will pursue Trout continue to float around and even Bryce Harper is joining in on the action saying that “If you don’t think I’m gonna call Mike Trout to come to Philly in 2020, you’re crazy.”
Trout’s response to questions about joining Harper in Philly was: “I don’t think I went a day this offseason without someone asking, ‘Hey when are you coming to Philly?'” Trout said. “I can’t predict the future.”
Philadelphia is not the only team that will be all in on Trout if he is able to test free agent waters with every big market team watering at the mouth to sign Trout to the biggest deal of all time. Trout will undoubtedly be given the chance to sign a mega-deal with a contender in the 2020-21 offseason and if the Angels don’t lock him down as soon as possible, eliminating this possibility, he will undoubtedly leave to a contender with deep pockets.
Long story short, Mike Trout is the best thing to happen to the Angels since 2002 and not locking him up for life will be the biggest mistake in franchise history. Regardless of whether they plan on contending over the next five years following the 2020 season, the Angels need to put Trout in an Angels jersey for life sooner than later. If they don’t give him an offer he can’t refuse, another team undoubtedly will.