Should the Angels trade Mike Trout? With the fighting Mel Clarks floundering under .500, many have asked this question recently. Trout has been without question the best player in baseball since his rookie season in 2012. I think Paul and I both agree that it would be ridiculous for the Angels to not at least consider the possibility that it would be better for the organization to trade him. Of course, it's very unlikely to actually happen. Teams rarely trade 24-year-old superstars, especially when they're signed far below market value for five more seasons. But, if Angels management is realistic, they should see a very bleak future for the team.
First, the dead money. Albert Pujols has 6 years/$165M left on his contract and the team is paying Josh Hamilton $53M through 2017 to play for another team. Next, the pitching injuries. Their two best starters, Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney, suffered elbow injuries in April and could be headed toward Tommy John surgery by season's end. Lastly, the farm system. Almost every prospect ranking service had the Angels ranked dead last before the season. Even worse, Champaign's favorite prospect evaluator, Keith Law, said it was the worst system he had ever seen.
If the Angels do consider trading Trout, what would be a fair package to get back? That's where this conversation starts getting fun. Paul and I each know our favorite teams, the White Sox and Cubs respectively, better than the other 29 teams. So, we each took our best shot at bringing Trout to Chicago. Let us know what you think of our offers and give us your favorite team's best shot in the comments below or by sending us an email. Alright, Paul's up first.
White Sox: Adam Eaton, Carlos Rodon, and Carson Fulmer
A young core of Adam Eaton, Carlos Rodon, and Carson Fulmer is just the type of return that makes sense for the Angels. The Angels need young talent all over, but especially in the starting staff, where Jared Weaver (and his 83 mph fastball) is currently their number two starter. Like Peter mentioned, the Angels have a dearth of young talent in the minors, without a single player in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects. Rodon is 23 and under team control for four more years. He had a promising rookie year in 2015 (3.75 ERA over 140 IP) and projects to be a long-term top of the rotation starter. Fulmer was the White Sox first round pick from Vanderbilt a year ago and is likely a year away from the majors. He currently sits at 70 on BA's top prospect list and has the potential to be an ace within a few years. Eaton ranks as the 3rd best OF in baseball in 2016 according to WAR, just behind Trout. He's entering the prime of his career at age 27 with a great contract (3 years/$14.4M). Although a single player can't replace Mike Trout, no team can win with only Mike Trout. Unless the Angels make a move quickly, the current farm system and big league roster lead me to believe that Trout will become the next Ernie Banks, an all around star on a perennial cellar dweller.
Cubs: Jorge Soler, Kyle Hendricks, Albert Almora, Dan Vogelbach, Gelyber Torres, Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez
Good effort, Paul. I didn't appreciate the Ernie Banks low blow. Also, "Cellar Dweller" would be a great name for a horror movie. Actually, it's already been taken. Darn.
The Cubs minor league system is deep, even after graduating Bryant, Soler, Schwarber, Baez, and Russell. The Angels need a massive infusion of young talent. My offer includes seven players: two major leaguers, two AAA guys, and three guys in A-ball. Trading Soler is hard for me, but it's a necessity to make room for Trout. Fowler would move to LF this year, before Schwarber takes his spot back full-time in 2017. Hendricks is an above average starter (3.49 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 5 WAR over 300 career IP) that won't be a free agent until after 2020.
Almora was the 6th pick in the 2012 draft and has developed more slowly than the Cubs first round picks in 2013 (Bryant) and 2014 (Schwarber). However, he's finally hit his stride at the plate with a slash line of .322/.344/.467. His defense has always been impressive, so he should be able to take over in CF for the Angels right away. Dan Vogelbach was born to be a DH. The 6-foot, 250-pound hulk is mashing at AAA this year: .313/.417/.508 in 151 plate appearances. He could also play in the majors right now.
Torres, Happ, and Jimenez are all a couple years away from the big leagues. Torres, 19, ranks #41 on Baseball America's top 100. Happ, the Cubs 2015 first rounder, is a switch-hitter that has an .382 OBP in 173 plate appearances at High-A this year (87 on BA's 100). And Jimenez is a raw 19-year-old OF that has started to produce at Low-A in 2016: .329/.358/.517 in 159 PA.
Can you imagine this lineup: Fowler, Trout, Rizzo, Bryant, Heyward, Zobrist, Russell, Montero?
Come on, Billy Eppler! Make it happen!