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Mike Trout, future Red Sox, book it

This is the deal that will bring Trout to the Red Sox! Maybe. It is Mike Trout, after all.


So awhile back I wrote a piece at Sports on Earth. You can read it if you want (masochist!) but the point can be summed up by saying that your trade proposal won't work so don't even try. I want to say right away that I know this is an article proposing a trade, but, because this is a trade proposal for Mike Trout, we already know it won't work. We're not departing reality for fantasyland unintentionally, we're already in fantasyland to start with and we're purposely staying there. So hopefully I've successfully inoculated myself from charges of hypocrisy.

In case it wasn't obvious already, this is an article about trading Mike Trout to the Red Sox and what it would cost to do so. Before we get to all that though, let's do Mike Trout. Trout is the best player in baseball. He was hosed out of the last two MVP awards because... I don't know, stats are stupid or something. By bWAR, Trout put up 8.8 and 10 wins in his only two seasons in the majors. Mickey Mantle, to whom Trout is so often compared, put up three seasons better than 10 wins (bWAR) in his career, but none came until he was 24. Last season Mike Trout was 21-years-old. In fairness to Mantle, he put up a 9.5 win season when he was 23. But still. For all intents and purposes Trout is Mantle. He's Mickey frick'n Mantle without the drinking and the knee problems, and he's Mantle at age 22. Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton are incredible, but neither is nearly as good or as valuable as Mike Trout.

At this point, Trout can be expected to generate 8-to-10 wins a season, and (here's the nutty part) maybe more. I mean, good gosh, there is a fair chance that, based on what we know about hitter aging curves, Mike Trout will get better. He's the best player in baseball and he's probably going to get better. So with all that in mind, know this: there is no more valuable player in baseball than Mike Trout. Dave Cameron underscored that fact by placing Trout at the top of his annual Trade Value series, but had he not done that, Trout would still be the most valuable commodity in baseball. I hope I've repeated that enough.

So what would it take for the Red Sox to get Trout? Well, a whole lot. A whole whole lot. Because Mike Trout is the best, so prepare for the pain. We'll start with everyone's favorite binky, Xander Bogaerts. Say bye-bye to Xander because there is no way -- none -- that Trout comes to Boston and Xander doesn't exit stage left. What would the Sox be giving up? Six seasons of Xander Bogaerts is some pretty valuable stuff. Bogaerts is the best prospect the Red Sox have had since Hanley Ramirez, and probably before. We all watched what he did when he showed up at the end of the year, and the whole world saw him hit .296/.412/.481 in the post-season. With the caveat that it's very difficult to project players multiple seasons into the future, FanGraphs Oliver projection system does look five seasons ahead. That in and of itself is iffy, but add in that Bogaerts hasn't played a full major league season yet, and we get to super iffy territory. Nonetheless, here's what Oliver projects for Bogaerts over the next five seasons (in fWAR):

2014: 3.9
2015: 4.5
2016: 4.9
2017: 5.3
2018: 5.4

Add it all up and that's 24 wins. That's a darn good player. Mike Trout has had 18.8 wins over his last two seasons (and if you go by fWAR instead of bWAR it's 20.4). Now it wouldn't shock me if Bogaerts' next five seasons wound up more valuable than Oliver's number. In fact, I'm kinda expecting Bogaerts to beat that number. But let's be conservative here and go with it. In either case though Xander goes in the pot, but there's going to have to be more.

There are only two Red Sox on FanGraphs trade value series (which ranks from 1-to-50). Xander Bogaerts was number 29. The only other Red Sox is headed to Anaheim too, and that's Dustin Pedroia (number 25 on the list). Pedroia is signed for eight more seasons at a total cost of $110 million. He has limited no-trade protection, but for the purposes of this silly article we'll ignore that. That's an average annual value of $13.75 million (not including some deferred money which, again, we'll ignore, but would make his AAV even lower). Over his last four seasons, Pedroia has been worth 20.5 fWAR. Oliver guesses 15.5 fWAR over the next five seasons. That seems low to me, so I'm bumping it up a win per season.

A quick point here: I'm not using WAR as anything more than a general guidepost. But I do think it's instructive to see how the numbers come out. In any case, if you add Bogaerts average WAR of about five to Pedroia's four, that puts us at nine, which, I think, is in Trout's ballpark.

But it still isn't enough. The Angels need starting pitching, so they're going to want two good starting pitching prospects too: Matt Barnes and Allan Webster. Or maybe they like Ranaudo better than Barnes. Doesn't particularly matter. Baseball America ranked Webster as the Red Sox fourth best prospect, and put Barnes ninth on the same list. Ranaudo would've been 11th or thereabouts according to an interview with Alex Speier that I can't find right now. Sox Prospects has Barnes fifth, Ranaudo sixth, and Webster seventh. All three guys are likely top 100 prospects for BA. They're all in the upper minors and their lower 20s. They're all promising and they all have their warts. These guys aren't Matt Harvey is what I'm saying.

To sum up, in return for Mike Trout and the ability to extend him (this was part of the deal) for 10 years, the Red Sox trade Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, and Allan Webster. There's your deal.

In Pedroia and Bogaerts, the Angels are getting 14 seasons worth of up-the-middle play. Pedroia's contract means that he'll never get super expensive, and Bogaerts by AAV over the next six seasons will be a pittance. The young pitching will be equally inexpensive, though you never know what you'll get in terms of performance and injury-avoidance. The Red Sox will get Trout and the ability to sign him for 10 seasons, though the cost won't be cheap. Ten seasons for $300 million is the number we writers were throwing around over email, and that seems like it might be on the low side to me. That's not to say Trout won't be worth it, but for the right to pay Trout $30 million per season over the next decade the Red Sox are giving up players who will be worth about the same or more and cost less.

So would I make this trade? Ugh... I don't know. Maybe? I probably should. And now I'm thinking maybe this isn't enough for Trout. I mean, it's Mike Trout! Pedroia, Ortiz, and each of the Red Sox 10 best prospects probably isn't enough! ARG! This is all why, in the article I mentioned at the beginning, I wrote:

if you have to make trade proposals, don't. But if you still have to, still don't. But if you still still have to, we don't recommend it. But if you absolutely must [...] wear a gag, disguise your voice, never use your real name, and when finished flee the country immediately.

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