Nationals: Is SI’s Trout Trade Proposal Laughable or Logical?

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July 20, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) hits a single in the seventh inning against Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
July 20, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) hits a single in the seventh inning against Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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Is the idea of a Mike Trout trade by the Washington Nationals as proposed by Sports Illustrated laughable or logical?

Two generational talents (Washington NationalsBryce Harper and the LA Angels’ Mike Trout) collide at the same time. What a blessing for the MLB! Harper’s incredible power and discipline at the plate paved the way to an NL MVP award and Trout’s all-around game produced historically-great WAR numbers.

The debate on which one is the better of the two raged on through much of the latter half of 2015. The advantage went back and forth; Harper’s offensive game could pull ahead just as quickly as Trout’s elite defense took the advantage back.

With Harper’s prolonged slump didn’t prevent him from starting in the All-Star game this season, it certainly makes it easier to crown Trout as the best young player (for now). He leads the MLB in WAR, ranks second in on-base percentage, fifth in slugging percentage, and is eighth in stolen bases.

He’s a treat to watch. However, the same can’t be said for the team he plays for. The Los Angeles Angels are currently 43-54, 12.5 games back in the AL West and nowhere near a Wild Card spot.

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The Angels don’t figure to gain ground anytime soon, either. The farm system is barren and doesn’t even have one notable prospect. Albert Pujols‘ 10 year, $240 million contract signed in 2011 will hang over the payroll’s head until he’s over 40 years old. The best player and trade candidate not named Trout, Garrett Richards, is out for the year with an arm injury that will likely command Tommy John surgery.

To put it simply, the Angels’ current and future situations look bleak. If the farm system had a couple elite prospects ready to hit the major leagues by the time Trout hits free agency in 2021 at the age of 29 (conveniently, the year Pujols’ contract ends) I’d be in support of making Trout an Angel for life.

However, that’s not the case. While it’s close to unthinkable to trade a generational talent that has added 44 (!) WAR in his first six seasons, the franchise’s predicament calls for it. As Neil Paine at FiveThirtyEight recently wrote, a trade for Trout “might need to haul in more than double the value of an entire top-ranked farm system to be equitable.”

That’s insane. But it shouldn’t sound impossible to a talented team that’s has a history of playoff struggles and is on the cusp of a World Series appearance. Say, the Washington Nationals!

Sports Illustrated entertained the idea in a recent The Case For piece. Writer Ben Reiter proposed that the Washington Nationals trade Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, Reynaldo Lopez, and Joe Ross for Trout.

That’s the Washington Nationals future ace, shortstop, center fielder, and two mid-rotation starters. For one player. By the eye test, Trout’s future WAR will not be greater than those five players combined. That trade would also leave some serious holes in the coming years in exchange for a serious upgrade at one position.

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It’s not laughable, but also not logical. Most of all, it’s not realistic in any way. Angels GM Billy Eppler made that clear after talking with Trout in May. Here is what Eppler said on the Baseball Tonight Podcast back in May:

"“There’s no way we’re going to part ways with Mike,” Eppler said. “He’s just too much of an impactful player. He means too much to this clubhouse, community, organization. This guy embodies so much more than what you see when it’s lights, camera, action. He’s the epitome of what good people are. He’s blessed, obviously, with a ton of athletic ability, but it translates into more than what we see on the playing field.” (quote courtesy of NJ.com)"

That doesn’t sound like someone who is keen on the idea of a trade. So, Washington Nationals fans, it doesn’t sound like there will be a super-team of Trout and Harper in the same outfield anytime soon.

What package, from any team, would you give up for Trout and what do you think of this idea for the Washington Nationals?

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