Angels should have moved Mike Trout

By Matt Verderame

Many within baseball circles would call this column absurd on the highest level. Trading Mike Trout? Impossible.

Yet the Los Angeles Angels should have done exactly that before the August 1 Major League Baseball trade deadline. Trout is perhaps the best player in the sport, and only 25 years old. Moving him would net the biggest haul we have seen for a player in decades and maybe ever. Considering he is under team control through the 2020 season, the team that would have gotten him would have had quite the return.

Of course, the Angels didn’t want to move their superstar. Despite being a last-place team in the American League West, Los Angeles decided to hold onto Trout, hoping to build around him using the oodles of cash in owner Arte Moreno’s pockets.

Unfortunately for Angels fans, that plan does not compute. The problem is that much of that money is already spent on a fatally flawed roster.

For starters, manager Mike Scioscia needs to be fired. Scioscia was an excellent catcher in his playing days with the Los Angeles Dodgers and did a nice job at the beginning of his tenure with the Angels. Scioscia took over the position before the 2000 season. Los Angeles won the World Series for the first and only time in franchise history in 2002, and then made the playoffs in five of the next six campaigns. Since the start of the 2010 season, there has been one 90-win campaign and no playoff victories.

In terms of on the field, the picture is uglier. Albert Pujols remains productive but can’t run the bases and is signed to an asinine deal. Pujols, 36, is signed through 2021 on a contract that gets more expensive by $1 million per season. In 2021, Pujols will be 41 years old and paid $30 million.

Fortunately, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver are both free agents after this season, clearing roughly $41 million in space on the books. Unfortunately, Huston Street is making $9 million next year while starter Ricky Nolasco hauls in $12 million. Street would be a bargain on a good team, but a quality closer on a bad one is a waste.

Still, the biggest problem by a longshot is the minor league system. Los Angeles has the worst farm system in the major leagues by a considerable margin. The Angels could have replenished their pipeline in an instant by moving Trout, who is hitting .311 with 23 home runs , 20 stolen bases and 77 RBI this season.

For Trout, the 2016 campaign continues trends of hitting near or over .300 with 30-home run power and speed to burn. Add in his Gold Glove defense, and Trout is the most complete package we have seen since Ken Griffey Jr.

So why move him? Because the Angels aren’t winning with him while he’s playing at his zenith. The only way to rebuild this organization is to move the best player, hit on the prospects brought back in the trade and make smart signings moving forward. It can still happen this offseason.

It’s the most painful move the Angels would ever make, but it would be the right one.