It’s no secret that Mike Trout is the best player in baseball today. Some would argue that he is the greatest baseball player of all time and despite being only 29 years old, he has a path to receiving that exact title. Regardless of who you think the GOAT is of baseball players (Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Hank Aaron just to name a few), you can’t deny how valuable Trout has been to both the Angels and Major League Baseball as a whole.
And although the title of this video might seem a little fishy, just say with me here. Why would the Angels want to hold onto a player when their organization has so many other holes to fill? Is it really just about selling tickets for the overall financial welfare of the Los Angeles Angels? If that’s indeed the case, the Angels want to sell postseason tickets. And regardless of their moves in previous offseasons to build a team around Trout, they haven’t made the playoffs in 7 consecutive years. That includes last season’s very small 60-game season.
And if the Angels are considering moving on from their franchise cornerstone, should Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn look into pursuing a trade for the superstar center fielder?
It’s important to note that Trout’s price tag for a blockbuster trade will be insane. Why you might ask? Here are some of his monster numbers to give you a better idea of why the Angels will ask for a king’s ransom in order to dump his contract onto Chicago’s payroll.
Let’s dive into some of Mike Trouts statistics throughout his career. The 3x MVP and 8x all star has a career 74.8 wins above replacement. The former late first-round pick is the only player in MLB history to top 70 WAR by his age 27 season. Assuming that he continues to perform at a rate similar to how he has for his career, he will be considered one of baseballs best players of all time. He’s on the path to finishing his MLB Wikipedia page above a .300 batting average, with the ability to win as many MVP Awards as Barry Bonds.
With Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert under contract for most of this decade, two outfield spots are already filled for the foreseeable future. However, Jimenez is a huge hole in left field who can’t stay healthy. Robert is coming off a major hip flex injury. As such, center field and left field are up for grabs if Rick Hahn don’t feel comfortable that Jimenez and Robert can pick up where they left off in 2022.
As for right field, there is still a huge question mark regarding who the White Sox will turn to for their future Position-9 needs. There is also some uncertainty regarding Eloy Jimenez’s ability to play left field….after all, his injury from this past spring training came from mistiming a fly ball. This could potentially free up two outfield slots for Trout to slide into. What originally looked like to be a sure thing from left to right field is now anything but. Adam Eaton remains the lone healthy outfielder, and with Robert out for most of the 2021 season, we’re going to see more and more of Andrew Vaughn in left field and Adam Engel in center. The White Sox desperately need Trout’s services. The problem is, do the White Sox have enough to pull off a blockbuster trade with the Angels?
The biggest question here is if the Angels would be willing to part with Trout. It wouldn’t be easy giving up the best player in baseball and would require a massive haul for the Angels to do so. We’ve seen superstar players in the past such as Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor get traded away towards the end of their contracts to save money. The only problem is Mike Trout is nowhere near the end of his contract. In fact, last offseason he signed a whopping 12 year/426 million dollar contract extension that looks to keep him in Anaheim throughout his age 38 season. With Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani (SHOW-hay oh-TAHN-ee), and Trout currently manning the heart of that Angels lineup, they appear to be in win-now mode. It’s safe to assume that Mike Trout is currently untouchable. But, if the Angels continue to lose, will they want to continue paying that hefty salary? This is where the White Sox could come into play.
Remember, the Texas Rangers moved on from one of the all-time greats in Alex Rodriguez. The Angels are a fringe city of LA, so they sometimes have a better financial state than the Dallas-Arlington metropolitan area. That being said, A-Rod never had a major secondary piece around him. One could make the case that Rendon and Ohtani have enough upside to lead the Angels into wanting to keep Trout. However, they’ve gone all-in before and failed. What’s to say this 2021 team will make its first postseason appearance since 2014?
What would a Mike Trout trade potentially look like for the White Sox? Let’s just say he won’t be cheap. There is no shortage of young talent on the South Side and throughout their farm system. If the Angels choose to take the same rebuilding route that the White Sox took in 2016, there is no better place to look at than the Sox themselves. White Sox fans are used to giving up Major League talent for young potential stars, so this will be somewhat of a role reversal of the past 4 years. However, a trade for Trout is certainly different than the James Shields-Fernando Tatis Jr. debacle. Shields was never a Hall of Fame pitcher, whereas Trout is one of the game’s greatest ballplayers. Anyway, Let’s take a look at some potential trade packages between the Sox and Angels.
Considering how big Trout’s contract is, it might take a third or even fourth team to make this deal work. Remember: The A-Rod trade almost involved three teams back in 2004 between the Rangers, White Sox, and Red Sox. That was a supposed three-team blockbuster that would’ve involved A-Rod, Magglio Ordonoez, and Nomar Garciaparra.
In this mega deal, the Angels receive:
White Sox Receive:
In this trade package, the Angels jumpstart their rebuild with two cornerstones at first and third base in Yoan Moncada and Andrew Vaughn. Moncada has already proved he can compete at the major league level, and Vaughn has all the makings of a great first baseman. The Angels also receive two young but very strong arms in Jared Kelley and Matthew Thompson to help bolster their rotation for the future. I would call this trade a slight win for the Angels, especially because Moncada can also play second base if needed.
White Sox Receive:
In this potential trade package, the Angels completely decimate the White Sox farm system. The South Siders would be giving up all 5 of their top prospects, in return for Trout and a solid young starter in Griffin Canning. I’m sure the White Sox would be weary to do this trade and have to completely revamp the farm system, but when it’s the best player in baseball, you never know. Besides, second base is more of a luxury than a necessity, which is why Madrigal is included in this trade scenario. I would rate this trade about even for both teams.
White Sox Receive:
In this trade, the White Sox are giving up the extremely powerful bat of Eloy Jimenez along with a great young arm in Michael Kopech. They also give up their 2018 third overall pick Nick Madrigal and prospect Jonathan Stiever. While I love Eloy, personally as a White Sox fan, I would make this trade in a heartbeat. With an outfield of Mike Trout and Luis Robert, it hardly matters who the left fielder is, as long as he can perform at an average level. I would call this trade a win for the White Sox. In fact, this trade scenario allows the White Sox to keep Adam Eaton in right field. Eaton has of course played Gold Glove-winning defense in right field and was a major contributor when the Nationals won the World Series in 2019. Keeping Eaton on the roster is huge because this trade allows Trout to occasionally play left field. The White Sox want to preserve Trout’s career as much as possible, which means having him occasionally play the 7-position.
Unfortunately, as Sox fans know way too well, Jerry Reinsdorf has been very timid to go into his pocket for superstar players. Would Reinsdorf be willing to pay roughly 30 million that Mike Trout commands on his contract each year? It’s hard to say. Remember: Teams want to avoid the luxury tax at all costs. This is the main reason why the Red Sox moved on from Mookie Betts.
Reinsdorf knows that the current White Sox team is capable of winning now despite only having the 15th highest payroll in the MLB. One benefit the White Sox has for the future if they do look to trade any of their core players is that they are all on cost-controlled contracts and locked up for a long time. This will make players such as Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada look much more intriguing to potential trade suitors if that day arrives.
In other words, Jimenez and Moncada have team-friendly deals. This would help the Angels front office absorb the Trout trade more easily because they can make future free agent moves without worrying about the luxury tax. (Make sure to restate things for the younger audience who might initially understand what you’re talking about).
If somehow a trade for Mike Trout to the South Side were to go through, the Angels would be committing to a full blown rebuild. They obviously love Mike Trout, but throughout the course of his career, they have struggled to put a competent team around him. Even this year with the additions they’ve made, I still don’t believe it will be enough to make a deep run into the playoffs. They lack quality starting pitching and bullpen depth. Mike Trout could be on the move in the coming years, and I’m sure any White Sox fan would love to have him.
The question that Reinsdorf and Hahn need to be asking themselves is, “Can Trout give the Sox a better chance of winning the World Series in 2021 and 2022 if they can still keep Robert, Abreu, and a couple of other pieces?” It would certainly seem the case, especially if Yermin Mercedes continues to be a force at the dish. Do the White Sox really need Moncada, Jimenez, Vaughn, and other pieces if they have the Greatest of All-Time in center field? Time would only tell.
If the White Sox were to make a move of this magnitude, it would make waves throughout not only Chicago, but the entire MLB. Chicago has never seen a baseball player this good in the city and he would be an instant star. (And yes, that includes the likes of Ernie Banks, Frank Thomas, Billy Williams, Luke Appling, and other notable Hall of Famers). The White Sox would undoubtedly have to give up a core piece being one of Robert, Jimenez, Moncada or completely drain the entire farm system to keep the major league roster intact. Both of these methods to acquiring Trout have cons, but you can never be disappointed in getting the best baseball player on the planet.
All in all, there are three major obstacles that stand in the way of Mike Trout in the black and white pinstripes. The first is the Angels have to be shopping Mike Trout. It currently looks like he’s untouchable as the Angels look to make one more last push these next couple years competing with Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. The next obstacle would be the White Sox agreeing to part ways with major pieces of the organization to acquire a player of Mike Trouts caliber. We have rarely seen the White Sox make moves of this sort in the immediate past, as normally it is the Sox giving up the superstars for young talent and prospects. Some people were shocked when they gave up Dane Dunning for Lance Lynn, but it’s a move that winning teams must make. Dunning was the starting pitcher of last season’s elimination game against the Athletics.
The third and arguably hardest obstacle to overcome would be convincing Jerry Reinsdorf to pay Mike Trouts salary. As I mentioned earlier, he signed a 12 year/426 million dollar contract last offseason, making him the highest paid baseball player in history. Not only would he be the highest paid player in White Sox history by far, he would be the highest paid athlete of all time in the city of Chicago. The bottom line is, while any White Sox fan would love to buy a Sox jersey that says Trout on the back, there isn’t really a path to make that a reality currently. With Jerry Reinsdorf operating the Sox like a mid-market team in a major market city, it’s a long stretch to say he would commit to paying a salary that high. Should the White Sox trade for Mike Trout? Absolutely. He immediately makes them a World Series contender for the next 11 years, regardless of who you give up for him. Will the White Sox trade for Mike Trout? If for anything I’ve known anything about the White Sox in my life, most likely not.