clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Could the Giants trade for Mike Trout?

New, 20 comments

No. And there are so many reasons why they couldn’t. Let’s take a look.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Look, the Giants have lost seven in a row and are having their worst September of the San Francisco era, so not every post can be about the team’s poor performance and poorer prospects. I think we’re all entitled to a brief break in the action where we dream a little. Is there any scenario where the Giants could acquire the greatest player on the planet?

No. There are no scenarios. The Giants have zero chance of obtaining Mike Trout.

But what if they did?

This comes from Ken Rosenthal’s recent article at The Athletic: “The Angels don’t want to trade Mike Trout — so they need to make him an offer”. In it, Rosenthal polled several front office types around the league to get a sense of a potential trade market should the Angels decide to make him available.

Rosenthal’s reasoning is that since Albert Pujols is an injured flop and Shohei Ohtani has to undergo Tommy John surgery (despite the kid hitting the crap out of the ball in the interim) that the Angels are just stuck with a bland roster full of holes and they could transform themselves by moving a once in a generation talent for hole-filling prospects.

It sounds a little bit familiar, but neither Buster Posey (38.8 fWAR) nor Madison Bumgarner (30.3 fWAR) are on the same ethereal plane as Mike Trout (62.9 fWAR), who’s still just 27 years old. 27 years old! Mike Trout turned 27 last month!

The Angels have yet to win a playoff game with him on the roster, which sounds so sad. While it’s foolish to argue that the team has “wasted” his performance, it’s easy enough to agree that he would be a fun player to watch make a deep run in the postseason at some point in his career... preferably while he’s still in his prime.

That doesn’t mean the Giants are the right team for him. There’s nothing about the organization that suggestions a playoff run is imminent and whatever pedigree they developed over the course of 2010-2014 has surely disappeared as the personnel has changed. But the Giants do play in a division where they’re often competitive, something that cannot be said of the Angels for the most part, no matter how aggressive their GM Billy Eppler has been. The Astros, A’s, and even the Mariners all seem to have a different edge.

Rosenthal dug into this question because Trout’s deal expires after 2020, and in addition to the other reasons mentioned, if the Angels tried to sign him to an extension beyond 2020 and he refused it (either because he had no intention of re-signing with the team or just wanted to take more of a wait-and-see approach) they might be better off trying to trade him to enhance their future rather than lose him to free agency and only get a draft pick.

The article goes on to provide one specific trade proposal:

The [unnamed] exec proposed the following package from the Braves: Outfielder Ender Inciarte and left-hander Sean Newcomb plus the Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 7 prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com, from a talent-rich system: right-handers Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson, third baseman Austin Riley and righty Touki Toussaint. Sounds like a lot? Of course it’s a lot — the Braves would be getting Mike Trout.

The unnamed executive used the Braves as an example because any Trout trade would have to be with an organization brimming with major league-ready and high ceiling talent still coming up the ranks in order for a deal to make sense.

The Giants are not a talent-rich system, of course, which is the main reason why they could never hope to trade for Mike Trout. The other reasons are that Trout has a full no-trade clause and the Giants would have to convince him to waive it and come play for them (the Giancarlo Stanton situation).

And, as the Braves’ SB Nation site mentioned in their article about this very subject, no team would make such a big trade without the possibility of negotiating their own extension with Trout, which puts the Giants at an even greater disadvantage.

Maybe they could convince him to play out his current deal with them because even though their current best players are over 30, they’re still top tier talent when healthy. It’d be hard to imagine Bobby Evans & co. making a convincing case that they’re well-positioned in a post-Posey, post-Bumgarner, post-Crawford world, even with Joey Bart.

HOWEVER, we’re in Fantasy Land right now, so let’s at least play around a little.

The Giants can’t match that theoretical offer from Rosenthal’s article in terms of excitement and ceiling, but they could make an intriguing-ish package that wouldn’t necessarily prevent the Angels from staying competitive in the AL West after Trout departs.

Instead of just doing a quantity over quality, Baseball Mogul / MLB The Show-level trade that kitchen sinks it, let’s stick to the size of that Atlanta deal (6 players).

Brandon Belt
Evan Longoria
Heliot Ramos
Dereck Rodriguez
Shaun Anderson
Chris Shaw

Maybe these six keep the Angels on the phone to continue the conversation, but it’s hard to see how they alone could clinch it.

  • The only consensus pick on MLB Pipeline is Heliot Ramos, of course, and he only registers at #82 in the top 100. The four prospects in Rosenthal’s example all rank higher.
  • Dereck Rodriguez is having a better season than Sean Newcomb by ERA+, but he’s also pitched over 50 fewer innings and is three years older, which is perhaps most significant, even if the Angels would have a bit more team control.
  • The Angels might have to answer the Giants’ own question about Shaun Anderson: “is he a starter or a reliever?” and if that’s the case, he might be too much of a lottery ticket to include as one of the big prospects in a Mike Trout deal. I’m not as down on Shaun Anderson’s prospects as a starting pitcher — by the numbers, he roughly maintained his 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio when advancing from Double-A to Triple-A and he’s just 23-years old with a four-pitch arsenal.
  • Heliot Ramos has upside for sure and the potential to be a dynamic, exciting player, but he’s also just 18 years old They’d have to really like him and see his future clearly to agree he’s the centerpiece of the deal.
  • Belt and Longoria fill immediate needs on the Angels’ roster and are above average/average major league-caliber players. Longoria also gets to return home to Southern California. Their combined CBT figure ($25.73 million AAV) is only a little higher than Trout’s ($24.08 million AAV), so it would give the Angels flexibility to make additional moves to fill other needs. But the Angels might also be on Belt’s limited no-trade list.

Although Belt and Longoria’s combined fWAR of 68.1 is literally greater than Mike Trout’s, they’re still much older and clearly in decline. They and these prospects just don’t equal Mike Trout’s singular value, both now and in the future.

I look at that list and don’t think the Giants are screwed by such a move. It’s almost in their favor. Figuring out the third base situation wouldn’t be quite so painful because, hey, Mike Trout! It’d be easy to slide Belt Buster over to first or play Pablo Sandoval or some rando free agent because, hey, Mike Trout! The Giants’ rotation would be in dire straits, but so what? Mike Trout! And it wouldn’t stop them from swinging around to grab Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, or someone like Patrick Corbin for the rotation. They’d probably even be in a better negotiating position because, hey, they’d get to play with Mike Trout!

But there are no quick fixes for a rebuilding team and that’s what the Giants are, despite their protestations, and that’s what trading for Mike Trout would be. At best, it would fix the excitement around the team, which is important, but it wouldn’t fix everything else that’s wrong, which is more important.

Also, the Angels aren’t going to trade Mike Trout, and even if they changed their minds, he’d never agree to be traded to the Giants.

But, again, they’ll never trade him.

Really.

Mark my words.

EDIT: As noted below, MLB changed the rule re: draft prospects. They can now be traded following the World Series in the year they were drafted. I was operating under the previous rule: teams couldn’t trade them until after the first year of their signing.

With that in mind, the Angels would absolutely want Joey Bart in the deal, and if that’s the case, I think they’re staying on the phone a bit longer. Bart and Ramos would empty out the top of the prospect list for the Giants, but the Angels would acquire a range of talent that adds depth and ceiling to multiple areas in their organization. It would end all depth in the Giants’ system, but hey, Mike Trout!