The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Should Mike Trout Ask to be Traded?

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is a great player on a lousy team. Except for one season, it‘s been that way since he made his major-league debut in 2011. In some respects you have to feel sorry for the guy. But then he’s currently making $37 million per year, so feeling bad for him only goes so far. Trout’s contract with the Angels goes through the 2030 season, when he’ll be 38 years old.

A sure-fire Hall of Famer, Trout has been called the best player in the majors. Early on, he was labeled as the “next Mickey Mantle.” From 2012 through 2019, he was indeed the best player, winning three MVP Awards, finishing in the Top 2 in two seasons, and Top 5 in two seasons.

Despite Trout’s individual performances during his tenure, the Angels have won only one division title, in 2014, when they won 98 games. Since then, they’ve finished above .500 only one other time, in 2015. It doesn’t look like their losing ways will change any time soon.

His talent seems to be wasted by continuing to play for the Angels, who haven’t surrounded him with enough talent, primarily pitching, to be a postseason contender. He’s played with two Angels teammates who have also been referred to as the best players in the majors--Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani. Yet teaming up with them didn’t alter the Angels’ fortunes.

It must be frustrating for Trout to continue to play on a team that has no playoff hopes. The Angels’ front office doesn’t have a plan to rebuild the club in order to eventually capitalize on Trout’s talents. Given that situation, should Trout ask the Angels to trade him to a team that has a reasonable chance at getting to the playoffs?

Even if Angels owner Arturo Moreno was willing to trade Trout, is there another team that could absorb his salary for seven more years? The teams with the fat wallets are already shelling out big bucks themselves, including teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, and Astros. Plus, Trout’s health could be cause for concern by an acquiring club. He’s played 36, 119, and 82 games in the last three seasons due to injuries. At age 32, is this a true indicator of his future health?

The second question is, what do the Angels want for Trout? He would command a high price in a trade, in terms of multiple prospects and possibly several young players with high upsides who are already in the majors. Could the Angels maneuver such a trade with a potential suitor that could be part of a longer-term re-build for them?

The other side of Trout’s dilemma is that he just needs to honor his contract with the Angels, regardless of how bad they are. As the old adage goes, “He’s made his bed, now he’s got to lie in it.” He’s being well-paid for his services for the next seven seasons. He needs to earn his lucrative salary, even if he’s playing for a losing team. There are a several hundred other big-league players who would trade places with him in a heartbeat.

Thinking back to the past about players in similar situations as Trout, Ernie Banks comes to mind. He was a two-time MVP, 11-time All-Star playing for the inept Chicago Cubs of the 1950s and 1960s. The Hall of Famer played 19 years without ever appearing in a postseason. I don’t remember if he ever made a big deal about continuing to play for a perennially bad team. But he is the player who is famously remembered for saying, “Let’s play two.”

Trout could quit baseball right now and still be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, because he was so dominant between 2012 and 2019. He could also play out his current contract and still be a Hall of Famer.

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