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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.

***

Los Angeles Dodgers

My offer: Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, Alex Verdugo and Frankie Montas.

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.”

Houston Astros

My offer: Alex Bregman, A.J. Reed, Joe Musgrove and Colin Moran.

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.”

Pittsburgh Pirates

My offer: Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez

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.”

Texas Rangers

My offer: Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Dillon Tate and Luis Ortiz.

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."

Boston Red Sox

My offer: Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, Anderson Espinoza and Andrew Benintendi.

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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carlbrownson
5/11
I'd take the Red Sox's offer.
Theman3983
5/11
I was surprised he said no, to be honest. But, I get it. It's Mike Trout.
gtgator
5/11
I don't get it.

Trout is a 10 win player. I get that. He'll also be making $120MM over the final 4 years of his deal - perhaps "underpaid" relative to value, but no great bargain. 2017 (at $19MM) is his only "cheap" year ($33MM/year after that).

As such, if a team offered four, 3-4 win players - all cost-controlled for 4-6 seasons - and a GM turns that down, he better be sure he has 2 win players in those other three positions that the new players would have filled. He'll also have to make sure he can do this without the $120MM in payroll he'd have had without Trout's salary.

For a team in the Angels position, I think they're crazy if they don't deal Trout. They don't have the prospects to upgrade three other positions at once. They don't have the payroll (or won't spend it if they do) to go upgrade the roster. Which means they'll waste his next couple of years.

But give up Trout and get back 4-5 players (including young major leaguers, which I know were not part of this exercise) that, overall, make them a better team while freeing up a decent chunk of payroll? I get that it is Trout - but I think that is a better path forward.
GBSimons
5/11
But are the Boston minor leaguers really 3-4 win players? Sure, they might be, but right now they're just really good minor leaguers, and things often go wrong with minor leaguers. You're talking about trading the best player in the game for the potential of several very good, dirt cheap minor leaguers. I understand the strong appeal, but it's not a slam-dunk decision.

As you concluded, though, if there were some young major leaguers in the mix with more established results at the highest level, that certainly tips the scales.
Jmast7
5/11
It would be interesting to try this exercise again with major league players included
ErikBFlom
5/11
I think the strategy would be to start by trading for multiple major leaguers. As you step-down in value for the major leaguers, you can start to work prospects in. If you are talking current major league players, I think the Orioles could put something together with Machado (2019 free agent). I don't think the Orioles are going to keep Machado after arbitration runs out, so Machado and Jones (2019 free agent) for Trout (2021 free agent). Each year they get less value, but they get it for more seasons.
BrettLarter
5/11
I doubt it's possible with minor league guys.

Trout is under team control (albeit well-compensated) for another 4 seasons after this one. Any prospect you get is only under team control for 6.

If you told me to select players to total 9+ WAR for the 2020 season, I think Trout is more likely than any combination of 3 prospects each getting 3. Then you take into account he's only 1 roster spot and it gets even more lopsided.

I think if you're the Angels, you could get any of these prospect deals in the 2018-2019 offseason, where you're trading 2 years of control of 1 guy for 6 years of control for 4-5 guys.
rgmoore68
5/11
I think the Dodgers could put something together starting with Pederson and Urias, but I can't imagine the Angels would ever trade trout to them.
tomshipley75
5/11
I guess the cubs lack a top 5 prospect and an elite pitching prospect, but a package of Contrares, Torres, Happ and Eddy Julio Martinez isn't too shabby.
ErikBFlom
5/11
I guess I wonder if the Twins could do it. Are Sano, Buxton and Berrios still all prospects?
TheArtfulDodger
5/11
Of those three, only Berrios is considered a prospect at this time.
Enscheff
5/11
A realistic Braves package would probably be Swanson, Inciarte, Teheran and another pitching prospect. Inciarte and Teheran aren't prospects, but there's simply no way the Angels trade Trout without getting actual MLB players who are cost controlled in return.
Maildude11
5/11
I think what this article doesn't take into consideration is the fact the Angels would save 30 million a year in dealing trout. With that said I would trade for most of those packages and spend that money on trouts replacement. Your stuck with pujols but weaver and Wilson are off the books soon that's a huge chunk of change to reshape the roster. The situation the Angels are in falls solely on the owner who spent ridiculous free agent money on pujols and Hamilton.
jnossal
5/12
How much does LAA lose in ticket sales by putting a Troutless 100-loss team on the field?
oldbopper
5/11
I found a quote from Miquel Cabrera's analysis in the 2006 BP Annual, "A Knight without teammates in a savage land" and it fits Trout perfectly. Mike Trout continuously surrounded by stiffs is a guaranteed losing situation. Only Trout is keeping this team from heading toward the Atlanta Braves level and a complete do over is the only choice. That Red Sox offer looks too good to pass up. A bold gamble is required here and Dombrowski has done this before getting Cabrera for Maybin, a "superstar" who wasn't, Miller, who was long gone before he found his niche, along with a few of the required throw ins.
Mark68
5/12
I think you just made the argument against trading Trout. What did the Matlins get in the Cabrera deal? Is Maybin still in the majors? Willis isn't and Miller bounced around before finding his niche. In other words, no. You do not trade Trout for that package. It would have to include at least Betts or Bogaerts and probably JBJ also.
jsdspud
5/11
From the Pittsburgh side of the trade, which current outfielder moves to 1B to make room for Trout? Marte's arm is too good. It probably is McCutchen, given arm strength and age.
crile2
5/11
including non prospects the red sox package would probably have to 2 of 3 out of betts/bogaerts/swihart plus either moncada/espinosa and either benintendi/devers, right? the angels get 2 very good young major leagues, 1 stud prospect and another really good prospect and the red sox get the player you always made in video games, 99s across the board.
tcfatone
5/11
Giolito, Turner for starters... not on the list?
ramtax
5/11
My thoughts as well. Add Michael A. Taylor, who really *should* be in Syracuse, and maybe Reyes or Fedde. That's a deal.
Theman3983
5/11
It certainly could be, but it also breaks my rule of destroying a farm system. Washington's farm system is wrecked with that move.
ramtax
5/11
Yeah, true. But come August when Turner and Giolito are up, it's already going to be pretty barren. But the, there's still Robles.
BPKevin
5/14
2 players "wrecks" a system? Both are expected to be up at some point this year anyway, so the system is shot as it is. Giolito, Turner and Taylor for Trout...but I don't think the Angels should do even that.
The Red Sox option seems best to me from the Angels point of view; however only by swapping Betts for Benintendi or Devers (whichever is in the Angels best interest) and I don't see how the Red Sox could say no.
ramtax
5/11
^ But hey, there's still Robles.
BeplerP
5/11
An old adage in international affairs: When you have a problem, and you look at it from every angle you can think of, and consult every expert you can reach, and no solution to the problem appears, you don't have a problem, you have a FACT. A FACT: Mike Trout cannot be traded for prospects. Never going to happen. Sorry, guys.
madjockmcferson
5/12
I want someone to trade for him because I'm at the point where watching him play for the angels is making me angry.
jrbdmb
5/12
What about Trout in a package deal with Pujols? It seems like any Angels rebuild needs to include getting rid of the $144M that Albert is still owed.
Mark68
5/12
The only problem that solves is money. The Angels wouldn't be able to restock the farm system by trading Trout and Pujols' contract. Besides, NOBODY takes on that kind of contractual commitment. $60 million+ per for two players?
doctawojo
5/14
*coughs* the Dodgers and Angels don't play in the same city