There are three universal truths about the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim right now.
1. The Angels aren’t very good right now
2. The Angels farm system is the worst in baseball, and it’s not close
3. The Angels have Mike Trout, who is amazing
So what happens when a team isn’t very good, and the farm system is worse than bad, but the team has a super duper ultra megastar? Everyone and their family begins to formulate trade ideas for that player. And it does makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’re not winning with Mike Trout, you might as well not win without him, stockpile assets, and hope you build something that can win you world championships. That’s the thought process, anyway.
And so, this got me thinking. Is there anyway a prospect trade for Mike Trout could make sense for the Angels.
I set forward two rules for this exercise:
1. It has to be prospect deal. I’m a prospect guy. Big-league players scare me.
2. I can’t destroy a system, and I can’t give more than four prospects. I can’t just deal Atlanta’s entire farm system for Mike Trout. You can call some of these offers unrealistic, but they’re not trades that are so bad that they’d be declined in video games, in my opinion anyway.
Now, the thing is, I think I know what is or isn’t a fair offer for Mike Trout, but I’m just a guy writing for a really great website. To get a fair yes or no answer, I decided to ask my good friend the industry. In this case, a front-office member who will be my yes or no to my offers for Trout.
I was able to come up with five teams who I believe would make sense in a deal. There were some others who I thought might make some sense (New York (AL), Minnesota, Cleveland, etc.) but these are the five who I believe made the most sense in a deal for Mike Trout. Let’s see what kind of responses I get.
Corey Seager is no longer prospect eligible, so I can’t headline the deal with what was once the best prospect in baseball. Shoot. I can still offer the best southpaw prospect in baseball in Urias; a 19-year-old who is dominating the Pacific Coast League and showing elite stuff/command in the process. De Leon just recently returned to the mound, but he’s another potential top of the rotation starter who also pounds the strike zone with his quality arsenal. Verdugo shows a plus hit tool with solid-average power and a cannon of an arm in right, and Montas has the stuff to pitch in high-leverage situations right now. Well, not right right now as he’s hurt, but you know what I mean. Acquiring these four guys wouldn’t just take your system out of the cellar, it’d put you in the top half immediately.
The response: “There’s a couple of criteria here, one that you hit and one that you didn’t. First, I need a top-five prospect, and you do give me that in Urias. But, I need that prospect to be a position player. I love Urias and De Leon, but I need a hitter to headline this deal. We shouldn’t be picky, but if I’m dealing the best player in baseball we are.
Also, if I’m the Angels, if there’s one team I’m not dealing Trout to, it’s the Dodgers. Moving a future Hall of Famer is tough enough, moving him to a team that plays in the same damn city as me? Nope. Not a chance, unless you’re giving me Clayton Kershaw.”
Okay, you want a position player to highlight your deal? I’ve got two. Bregman can do everything you want a player to do on the field, and it no longer appears unrealistic to see him stay at shortstop. Reed has as much offensive firepower as any prospect in baseball—position be darned—and it looks like he’s ready to go play first base right now. Musgrove’s command is elite, and the stuff isn’t too shabby either, with a plus fastball and solid-average curveball as well. Moran is my “throw-in,” and you should appreciate that my throw-in is a third baseman with a plus hit tool who isn’t completely bereft of power.
The response: “I’m not sure this is even close for me. There’s two top-25 prospects, a mid-rotation starter, and a 45-grade third baseman. That’s not gonna get it done. Plus, if I’m dealing him in the division, I’m gonna need a lot more.”
Alright, I know you said you need a position player to highlight this deal, but hear me out. Glasnow is ready to help your downtrodden rotation right now, the amount of swing-and-miss in his stuff is just nasty, and he’s throwing more strikes. Meadows is but a stronger arm away from being a potential five-tool player, and you and I both know your system needs a five-tool player. It’s also lacking on guys ready to hit right now, and that’s what Bell is, from both sides of the plate. Ramirez isn’t that far behind, and his above-average hit tool and plus speed make him the type of guy who can hit at or near the top of your lineup soon.
The response: “Nope. There’s just way too much volatility in this trade. There’s not one guy here who I can guarantee is a long-time contributor to my club. I can admire taking risks, but I’m already taking a massive one by even considering a trade for Trout.”
This is getting frustrating, so I’m pulling out the big guns. I’m also not destroying the system, because I’m leaving Lewis Brinson and the other 47 high-ceiling players in Texas.
Mazara may not be a unanimous top-five prospect, but he’s really good, and look at what he’s doing at the big-league level already. He makes Gallo the secondary piece, the dude with 80 in-game power, who will draw enough walks to compensate for a strikeout or 160. Tate’s on the smaller side, but who cares, there’s two 70 pitches and a good enough change to start. Ortiz is…larger…but again, double-plus fastball, plus slider, plus command. He’ll pitch in your rotation for a long time.
The response: “Well, this is the first one that made me at least think for a while. Obviously I love Mazara, I think he hits the qualification of the top-five prospect. I just have some hesitations about the rest of the deal. Is Gallo’s hit tool gonna be good enough to justify playing everyday? And am I gonna have to sit him against quality lefties? I’m also not sold on either pitcher, I’m not sure either one pitches at the top of a rotation, and I can’t see myself dealing Trout in division without an MVP candidate, which you have, and a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, which you don’t."
I am tired of you saying no and I will not be shot down again. Say no to this. You’ve got your top-five prospect in Moncada, you’ve got your potential top of the rotation starter in Espinoza. You’ve got one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball in Devers, and you’ve got a guy who can do a remotely decent Trout imitation in Benintendi. This sort of breaks my rule of destroying my system, but I wanna see you say no to that.
The response: “You hit everything I want, and yet, it’s still no. Moncada is gonna be a star, so is Benintendi, and I really like Devers and Espinoza. It’s still Mike flippin’ Trout. I can’t say yes to this and watch him hit 50 homers over the Green Monster.”
So, what did this exercise prove? Nothing that we didn’t already know, really. Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, signed to a super fair contract and is still younger than some top-100 prospects. Yes, the Angels system is laughably bad. No, the Angels aren’t winning a world championship this year and probably not next year. You still can’t deal a talent like this. Not for prospects, anyway, and probably not for anything.
Thank you for reading
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