He’d have still been worth it in two years. The Phillies could have afforded him. He could have helped form an outfield for the ages. Now, none of that matters.
Mike Trout agreed to a jaw-droppingly large 12-year, $430 million contract extension with the Angels Tuesday, dethroning Bryce Harper’s three-week old deal for the largest in baseball history. It also happens to be the largest pro sports contract in, well, pro sports history. “Historic” is an apt word for it.
It also deprives the 2020-21 free agent market of the game’s biggest star. Trout, for his part, gets to stay with the team that drafted him until he’s nearly 40, dropping anchor on the West Coast and cementing himself not only as the face of the Angels franchise, but dramatically increasing the odds that he goes the way of Cal Ripken, Jr.: An all-time great who only ever wore one uniform.
It’s a bitter pill for Phillies fans, who’d spent time in the wake of Harper’s recruitment announcement dreaming of The What Could Be, to have hopes of bringing the Millville, New Jersey native back east to play for the hometown heroes. But hidden in the aftertaste is a silver lining: This just saved us from ourselves.
If Mike Trout ever hits free agency, Bryce Harper is putting on a full-court press. “If you don’t think I’m gonna call Mike Trout in 2020 to have him come to Philly, you’re crazy.” #Phillies #Angels @SportsRadioWIP https://t.co/Iergivqksn— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 5, 2019
It was an exciting time in those moments immediately following the Harper signing at the end of February. Suddenly free to dream big, what was to stop us from thinking the Phils wouldn’t pony up to make a Dream Team take the field every day? We certainly took part in stoking those coals.
But those pipe dreams, had they been allowed to last much longer, might have had unintended consequences. I’d certainly seen distractions pop up long before Harper had even signed with the Phillies this year, much less that crystal ball projection for February the Someteenth, 2021.
It was all early-stage Veruca Salt Syndrome: Not content to land a superstar in free agency, and an All-Star catcher and shortstop in trades, and a steady-as-they-come reliever (a former All-Star himself), part of us seemed content to let these next two years pass us by on account of pining for moreMoreMORE, when we’ve only started to play with all these new toys we just got.
The dream was a fun one. But it was too far away, too uncertain even at its premise, to risk missing enjoying any part of what should be an exciting two years in Philadelphia with the players who are actually here. Now, spared the distraction, we can turn our focus back to this year and the very real, very possible championship hopes it carries. And that’s dreamy enough for me.