Little boys play with action figures (a.k.a. masculine dolls) in different ways. Some boys wrecklessly smash action figures against each other. Some boys attach themselves to one action figure and idolize the character of the doll. Then there are the weird kids, who imagine lives for their action figures, giving each one its own role in the world of toys. Most of these weird kids find some form of art to express the creativity inside them. A few of these kids find obsessions and apply their imaginations to them.
I’m the weird kid who created a society of action figures. Today, instead of writing short stories or creating what people today consider art, I devote my time to baseball, thinking about what-if scenarios on a daily basis. What if the Yankees traded Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda? How would both teams change? Would the players’ careers turn out differently? These are the types of questions I think of all the time.
I consider Halos Daily a canvas for my thoughts. I give a lot of thought to Mike Trout, the deliciously toolsy prospect who projects to become one of the best players in the game some time very soon. So I came up with a new what-if scenario and asked fellow Angels writers for their opinions. Here’s the scenario:
You are Jerry Dipoto. It’s July 30, 2012 and the Angels are tied for the AL West lead with the Rangers. In the outfield, Vernon Wells is hitting .250/.330/.500 and Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter are repeating their 2011 campaigns. Mike Trout is hitting .400 in Triple-A and his stock is through the roof. What would it take to pry him from your organization? The team’s roster looks exactly as it does today and everyone on your roster is healthy.
Mark Saxon opined that Trout was untradeable:
Here’s the thing about Mike Trout: What if he’s as good as everyone thinks he could be? What if he’s a future Hall of Famer just at the brink of this landmark career and you are the GM who trades him away, the guy who deprives your fan base of the joy of watching that talent blossom at home? What if he helps win a World Series in someone else’s jersey? It’s a practically unforgivable act.
Saxon also noted that the Angels would be trading Trout before really knowing what he was, which could go wrong even if they brought in a Felix Hernandez or Evan Longoria.
Sam Miller had similar beliefs:
Evan Longoria. Matt Moore. Maybe Jose Bautista. Probably Troy Tulowitzki? Bryce Harper? It’s a really short list. The standings you lay out are a bit of a red herring. If the Angels were a mid-market team that had to make the most of their competitive windows, then I could see going all in when the opportunity arises. But given budget, talent base and front office, the Angels are a team that should be competing for a playoff spot each of the next five years, so it’s not really worth improving one roster’s playoff chances at the drastic expense of each of those five. And that’s what trading Mike Trout now — six years of service time remaining, three of them before he’s even arbitration eligible — would do. So any trade would have to net a player who is cost-controlled and underpaid well into the future. I’d do it for the guys above — and, really, Trout-for-Bautista could end up making sense in reality, under the right circumstances — and also maybe for Jason Heyward, and maybe Mike Stanton, and maybe Clayton Kershaw. But Trout is simply too valuable to a franchise to waste on any short-term considerations.
Rev Halofan was a bit more blunt:
I wouldn’t trade Trout to another team if the return in the trade was a cure for cancer. IF the Angels are tied for 1st on July 30 they will make no move, believing in what they got. They will jiggle the roster in late August to make Trout playoff eligible and they will just go for it.
And finally, Garrett Wilson had this to say:
Trout may end up being on the outside looking in this season, but after Torii Hunter is cut loose after his contract expires at season’s end, Trout will be very much needed in 2013. As such, there isn’t any scenario in which the Angels should consider trading him. Or, I should say, any realistic, scenario. I mean, if the Rays want to trade Evan Longoria and Matt Moore for Trout, then by all means they should make that trade, but Tampa is never going to offer that or even think about offering that. To put it simply, Trout is the future of the Angels and nothing that can happen this year will change that.
There’s one underlying reason that makes trading Trout just silly: the six years of service time left until he hits free agency. Being a star is one thing, but doing it for $400,000 per season for three years is another. The Angels should see tremendous returns on their investment in Mike Trout, even if he doesn’t come close to his ceiling.
Notice the players that my colleagues mentioned for potential trades: Longoria, Moore, Stanton, Heyward, King Felix, Kershaw, Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista. All of these players are locked up long term. As Miller and Rev Halofan pointed out, trading Trout during the season would be unnecessary, as the team figures to be great over the next several years any way.
Trout is locked up for at least six seasons, but could sign an extension early, like Matt Moore did earlier this offseason and Evan Longoria did just a few years ago. This means that the Halos could actually get more than six years of a great Mike Trout.
Before closing there’s one thing to emphasize: Mike Trout isn’t going anywhere. My action figures didn’t live real lives. Today, I don’t remember how action figure Darth Vader contributed to society, but I remember having fun creating the story, even though I was the only member of the audience. I can only hope my audience today enjoys dreaming of Mike Trout situarios as much as I do.
Hudson Belinsky can be followed on Twitter at @hudsonbelinsky.