At the beginning of the year, not many people had the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim doing a whole lot this year. Their pitching staff is rather geriatric and their lineup is not much younger, but the most glaring issue with this team is its lack of a farm system. Los Angeles does not have a single player in the top 100 prospects list, and 2019 the next time Angels baseball will be relevant. Bad trades and expensive free agent signings have doomed them.
The Angels signed a declining Albert Pujols and traded away Randal Grichuk for David Freese. For a team currently at its lowest point in rebuilding, it needs to build its farm system quickly, and the only way that seems possible is by doing what was once thought to be impossible: trade away superstar Mike Trout.
Trout is essentially baseball’s version of Dan Marino. He was a late first round pick in 2009, passed over by many teams before being selected by the Angels with the 24th pick. After making his debut in 2011, he has made the All-Star game every year since, in addition to winning the AL MVP Award in 2014. While the organization is in decline, the play of Trout is actually on the rise, as he has become one of the top five young players in the league. If the guys in the Angels front office can ask for a king’s ransom for Trout, why they should at least field the offers.
There aren’t a whole lot of teams who could actually do it, but the idea that they would be listening to trade ideas would mean that they are realistic about their future. The Angels have Pujols under contract until 2021, and there aren’t many teams who would trade for that. However, if plugged into the cleanup spot, he can still get in runs and smack the ball out of the park. Not the way he did in St. Louis for 10 years, but enough to produce. Pujols and Trout could be part a package or traded separately, and could lead to a great return. So who could actually pull off a trade for a package with Trout and maybe Pujols?
The two teams that come to mind first are the Red Sox and the Yankees. Both teams have deep farm systems and both can handle heavy contracts. The Red Sox will have an opening in the cleanup spot after David Ortiz’s retirement, and the Yankees will soon have relieved itself of Alex Rodriguez’s contract. The money and the prospects are both there, so it’s easy to believe that inquiries for Trout will be coming soon.
Another team that could trade for Trout are the Phillies. Along with being his hometown team, the Phillies are currently on the upswing in their rebuilding process, and their farm is packed. Philadelphia could be a team to watch.
As the year winds down, the Angels don’t seem to be in a hurry to move Trout, as trading a superstar is a very delicate process. However, this seems to be the only option for this disaster in Anaheim. If the team can correctly pull off a trade, and get a heavy return, it could mean that the team will be ready to be competitive a lot sooner than expected.