Angels general manager Perry Minasian spoke to the media at the Winter Meetings today, emphatically declaring that a Mike Trout trade is not happening, with Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com among those to pass along his comments. “Mike Trout is not getting traded,” Minasian said. “100 percent.”
There was never really any concrete reporting to suggest that a Trout trade was actually being considered, just speculation from outside observers. The argument for contemplating a trade was essentially that the club hasn’t been good enough in recent years, despite having both Trout and Shohei Ohtani on the same team. They haven’t had a winning season since 2015, haven’t made the postseason since 2014 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2009. With Ohtani now a free agent and perhaps signing elsewhere, it was suggested by some that the club should look to blow up the roster and start over.
But that is clearly not how the Halos are viewing things. Last month, Minasian made it clear that the club is not rebuilding and is actually planning on being aggressive this winter in adding to the roster. That may involve luring Ohtani back to Anaheim or perhaps pivoting to other notable transactions, but trading Trout doesn’t make sense in any scenario where the club is still trying to win in the short term.
Even if the club were to decide to make Trout available at some point down the road, there would be challenges in doing so. For one thing, Trout has a full no-trade clause and would therefore have to give the green light to any deal. Back in September, he spoke about how he intended to play for the Angels in 2024.
It’s also fair to wonder how much trade value he actually has at this point. Various injuries have limited him to 237 games played over the past three seasons, less than half of the club’s 486 contests for that time frame. He was able to get into 82 games in 2023, with a left hamate fracture wiping out much of his second half, but had diminished production when on the field. His batting line of .263/.367/.490 was still well above average, translating to a wRC+ of 134, but he had never previously had a wRC+ below 167 in a full season. He also hasn’t reached double-digit steals since 2019 and the advanced defensive metrics have been split on his glovework in recent years.
That’s not to say Trout isn’t still a very good player. FanGraphs still pegged him as being worth 3.0 wins above replacement in 2023, even with the drop from his own ridiculous standards and only playing half the year. But he’s now 32 years old with his health becoming a growing concern and he is still being paid at an elite level.
Trout’s contract still has seven more years on it with $248.15MM still to be paid out, a rate of $35.45MM per year through 2030. Even if the club decides to change their plans a year from now, he will still have six years and $212.7MM remaining, going into his age-33 season. Using MLBTR’s Contract Tracker to look at data going back to 2010, we can see that the largest guarantee secured by a player going into his age-33 season or older is Jacob deGrom’s $185MM deal from last offseason. Among position players, Josh Donaldson’s $92MM tops the list.
Unless Trout can suddenly return to total health and MVP-caliber production, there’s likely not any surplus value in the deal. Though he’s still a valuable player, it would be hard for him to secure this elite-level salary if he were on the open market. That means the Angels would either have to settle for a middling return to clear the money off the books or eat some cash in order to secure a more notable return. That figures to put the club in an awkward spot on terms of public relations with Trout having been the face of the franchise for so long, and that goes double if Ohtani also ends up leaving for another club this winter.
Ultimately, with the Angels set on competing, keeping Trout and hoping for a return to form is the most sensible option. The rest of the offseason will determine if his supporting cast will be stronger than it has been in recent years.