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The Mike Trout Question

Let’s discuss the elephant in the league

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Los Angeles Angels v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

My dear friend Bob Nightengale reported Sunday morning that, for the first time, the Los Angeles/California Angels (of Anaheim) were open to trading Mike Trout. Yes, that Mike Trout. And as we all know, this is a Boston Red Sox blog. So, could the Boston Red Sox trade for Mr. Trout? I don’t know! But I’ll do my best to figure it out!

Here are the details. The Angels are a disaster. Mike Trout is owed $248 million over the next seven years (That’s $37 million a year). Mike Trout is one of the greatest players in the history of baseball. Mike Trout has also played in only 678 of a possible 1032 games since 2016.

That final detail is the problem here, isn’t it? Mike Trout, when healthy, is still very much Mike Trout. His .OPS since 2016 is still 1.032! In just 119 games last year, he hit 40 home runs! The thing is, he isn’t very healthy very often.

MLB: JUL 22 Angels at Braves Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So, say the Sox did want to trade for Mike Trout. What would a deal even look like? I imagine a deal could go one of two ways. Either the Angels could just hand the entirety of the Trout contract off to some team for a few middling prospects, OR the Angels eat a good deal of the money in return for some higher-end prospects. It’d probably be a bit of a weird deal either way.

Essentially the only comparable deal in recent history is the Giancarlo Stanton trade. At the time, Stanton was coming off an MVP season but did have some injury concerns of his own. Stanton was 28, while Trout is 32. Stanton was owed $295 million dollars over the next twelve years while Trout, as mentioned, is owed $248 million over the next seven. Both Stanton and Trout had no-trade clauses as well, which always affects the team’s return because of the little leverage they have (and, in fact, Stanton rejected proposed trades to the Cardinals and Giants that might’ve netted Miami a better return).

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Rob Foldy/Miami Marlins via Getty Images

The Yankees sent starting second baseman Starlin Castro along with prospects Jorge Guzmán (any Better Call Saul fans here?) and José Devers to Miami. Neither prospect cracked the Yankees’ top 20 at the time of the trade. In exchange, Miami ate $30 million of Stanton’s contract so New York could stay under the CBT threshold (the whole Derek Jeter side of this is an article for another time).

Mapping the Stanton trade onto Trout and the Red Sox might look something like Alex Verdugo, Brandon Walter, and Cutter Coffey for Trout and a little bit of cash (though Verdugo only has one year of control left, whereas Castro had two). Would you do that if you were the Red Sox? Maybe? Probably? Seems like a light haul for one of the greatest players of all time, but teams are terrified of bad contracts and the no-trade clause changes everything.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game One Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Now, if the Red Sox are interested in trading for Trout but not his contract, things get much hairier. There has never really been an example of a post-free-agency star getting traded without the acquiring team taking on the majority of the money. If the Sox wanted the Angels to eat a lot of the cash, perhaps we’re looking at Marcelo Mayer and Roman Anthony to the Angels. Would that work?

A player like Mike Trout being available doesn’t happen very often. But due to his injury history and his contract, acquiring him isn’t exactly a slam dunk. If push came to shove and the Sox did swing a deal for Trout, would I be all for it? I’m not sure. Like everything, it depends on the details. One thing is for sure, though, I’m ready for the offseason.