It's probably not a conversation that has occurred in the conference rooms, offices, or even dark corners of the hallways at L.A. Angels headquarters in Anaheim.
Trading Mike Trout. No, it's a laughable idea. Why would the Angels ever do such a thing? After all, Trout is unquestionably the best player in baseball, worth 37 wins above replacement in his four full seasons of big league ball.
Oh, and he's only 24.
So yeah, you don't trade guys like this. You build around them.
Unless you have the worst farm system in the history of the world which, according to ESPN Keith Law's organizational rankings out Wednesday (Insider Access only) is basically what the Angels have right now.
I've been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I've ever seen. They traded their top two prospects in the Andrelton Simmons deal and had no one remotely close to top-100 status. They need a big draft this year to start to restock the system or we're going to start talking about whether it's time to trade Mike Trout.
Boom. Drop the mic, Keith.
Trading Mike Trout. Trading the guy with a career .304/.397/.559 slash line. Trading the guy who has hit 30, 27, 36 and 41 homers the last four years. Trading the guy who has a career .407 wOBA and 167 wRC+. Trading the guy who can still play well above average defense.
You want to trade that guy?
***For the record, Law was not advocating trading Trout NOW, but a couple years down the road if the Angels are unable to turn the current roster into playoff appearances.***
On a purely intellectual level, trading your best player in order to bring in as much young talent as possible makes all the sense in the world, especially when your talent base is so low that you would need a 50 foot ladder just to see topsoil.
That's what the Phillies have been doing since last July. They traded their best pitcher, Cole Hamels, and got a king's ransom back. They traded Ken Giles in the off-season and got a number of arms who could turn out to be very good starting pitchers.
And as a result, they've seen their farm system elevated from No. 25 last year to No. 6 in Law's latest rankings.
So yeah, maybe the Angels should trade Mike Trout. If you want to fix a farm system that is in tatters, wouldn't that be the best way to get it done? After all, you can't win a pennant with just one guy and a half-used bottle of Albert Pujols on the shelf.
But there's one problem. You can't trade Mike Trout.
Surely, if the Angels made Trout available, teams like the Phillies would be interested. Every team in baseball would be interested.
But there's this little thing called "value." The Angels would certainly want more than fair market value for the best player in baseball, their prized possession. They would need enough players/prospects to make this whole thing worth their while. They would need enough in return in order to sell this to the fanbase.
The whole reason for trading Trout is to inject the franchise with enough talent to make competing for the playoffs a realistic, long-term possibility.
And that's the problem. There is no way any team in baseball is going to give the Angels what they want for Trout, unless the Angels are very, very stupid.
What would the Phillies have to give up in order to trade for Trout? I shudder to think, but here's a rough guess.
- Maikel Franco
- Aaron Nola
- J.P. Crawford
- Vincent Velasquez
- Cornelius Randolph
- Roman Quinn
- Jimmy Cordero
That's enough talent to choke a horse, and I'm not even sure if that would be enough to get it done. You'd also have to include international pool money, cash and anything not nailed down at Citizens Bank Park.
The problem here is that never in the history of the game has a player of Trout's ability and age been traded. No one has had the kind of start to his career that Trout has had, and acquiring a player of his ability at this stage of his career would require so much of the acquiring team that they would almost certainly balk.
Maybe the Dodgers or Cubs could do it. Maybe. But I doubt it.
So it's really impossible to know what it would take to land Trout. The above package would certainly be too much for the Phillies to stomach. Heck, even giving up Nola, Franco and Crawford feels like too much for me.
This is why trading Mike Trout would be borderline impossible. It's just too difficult to comprehend what the parameters would be.
The Angels are going to have to fix their farm system in different ways.
And it's going to take a very long time.