So you're telling me there's a chance?— CSN Philly (@CSNPhilly) August 3, 2017
Come home, Mike. pic.twitter.com/4oxjXRKF7c
Prior to this evening's Philadelphia Phillies-Los Angeles Angels matchup, Gregg Murphy of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia spoke to two-time MVP, Eagles fan and Millville (NJ) native Mike Trout. Let's just say he didn't cool the rampant speculation that he could someday end up playing for the Phillies.
"Obviously, I got a couple more years on my contract. Growing up as a kid, you always want to play for your team. But I love it in Anaheim, I can't say enough about this organization. We'll see what happens."
While Trout's made his love for Los Angeles quite clear, this isn't a quote that sounds differently than it reads. By listening to Trout, he at least sounds intrigued by the possibility of playing for the Phillies.
With that said, the logistics of Trout ending up with the Phillies still don't add up.
I hate to pour cold water on everyone's fun (OK, maybe I enjoy it a little), but the same reasons I've cited for Trout not being an ideal fit for the Phillies in recent years still hold true.
First of all, Trout is signed through the 2020 season. The Angels may not be a good team in 2017, but they are motivated to hold onto a generational talent as long as possible to see if they can win with him. They have him under team control for three more seasons, it's not like he's eligible to become a free-agent this offseason.
Secondly, Trout will NEVER reach free-agency. There's a less-than-zero percent chance that the Angels ever allow the future Hall of Famer to walk for nothing more than a compensatory pick. So to acquire Trout (which would be after the 2018 season at the earliest), it would take a historic return to land him. Frankly, I'm not sure that the Phillies have a historic return to give up. Even if they do, it's fair to wonder whether it would be worth giving up. No one's denying the greatness of Trout, but this isn't the NBA. For as dominant as Trout was from 2010 to 2016, the Angels made the playoffs just once, which came in 2014, when they were swept by a Kansas City Royals team that didn't have a player even close to as great as Trout. The Royals would win the American league pennant in 2014, before winning the World Series in 2015. The point is, dominant individual players rarley will their teams past great teams.
Let's say that they clear all those hurdles and acquire Trout. Even then, they will be a team with a depleted farm system and probably not enough pitching to win. With Bryce Harper and Manny Machado likely to rewrite the financial record books after the 2018 season, the Phillies would likely have to give Trout a decade-long deal after 2020. That decade-long deal would start in his age 29 season, but likely run through his age-38 season. If he's given $50 million per season, he probably won't opt-out four or five seasons into the deal. That means the back-half of that deal, which would count just as much as the front-half, might (this is generous) be very ugly.
Of course, it would be cool for Trout to join his hometown team and spend the second half of his Hall of Fame career there. But winning a third World Series would be even cooler, and it's fair to wonder if the path outlined in this article is the best way to do that. Harper and Machado are not as good as or better than Trout, but they are Hall of Fame caliber talents in their own rights, ones that the Phillies may be able to acquire sooner, at a younger age and without destroying their farm system.
As Trout said, "we'll see." If I've learned anything over the past year, it's that this story isn't going away anytime soon.