Are the Angels building a team that’s good enough to surround Mike Trout?
What have the Los Angeles Angels been doing this offseason? It’s a legitimate question. It certainly doesn’t seem as though they’ve done enough to contend in what again will be a very competitive American League West. It almost seems like a waste, being that they have unequivocally, hands down the best player in baseball signed to a six-year deal that will keep him from free agency until after the 2020 season in Mike Trout. It’s curious that they did not (or have not) gone after some of the big name free agents to build a team around Trout that has a very good chance of contending.
It begs the question, are the Angels wasting Mike Trout’s youth? He could’ve, by at the very least by 2018, be on a team where his contributions are putting the team in a position to win a World Series Championship. Debuting in the big leagues at age 19, Trout has just over four years of service time and would’ve been a free agent by 2018 but signed a six-year $144.5 million contract extension that will keep him in Anaheim through the 2020 season, at which time he will be 29 years old.
While 29 isn’t considered that old in baseball, Trout has begun his career at an unprecedented pace. While most players are looking to hit their primes around age 26 or so, Trout hit his in 2012 when he was named Rookie of the Year and finished second in the MVP voting to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. He finished second again in both 2013 and 2015, but took home baseball’s biggest award in 2014. It’s likely that had he been on a more competitive team that he’d have at least one more MVP trophy at home. He’s the only player ever to finish in the top two in the MVP voting in their first four seasons.
In those four full seasons, Trout is a four-time All-Star who’s already led the league in runs scored three times, stolen bases, RBI, walks, slugging percentage and OPS. He hasn’t won a batting title yet but it is only a matter of time with his lifetime .304 batting average.
With fellow outfielder Jason Heyward hitting free agency and signing a monster contract with the contending Chicago Cubs this year at the young age of 26, it’s probably hitting Trout hard that that could’ve been him in 2018. Instead he’ll be more the age of the average player when he hits free agency and Trout is anything but average. He’ll still have plenty of amazing seasons and MVP Awards in his future, barring injury, but it has got to sting a little that he could be on the verge of joining a team like the Cubs when the Angels have done so very little to improve their team.
For more on what offseason moves and additions the Angels have made you can read the remainder of my column on Today’s Knuckleball by clicking on the link below. Then decide for yourself: Are the Angels contenders? Are they wasting the youth of Mike Trout?