Here’s a cold take: Mike Trout‘s extension will change the plans of a large percentage of Major-League organizations.
That being said, the teams that will have their future plans changed by this extension each have different reasons for why this strategy is changing. Here are all the teams that are now redirecting their plans after seeing the details of Mike Trout’s extension released.
Group 1: Teams With Upcoming Extensions
Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Braves, Cubs
Each of these teams have players who, in the coming years, will be expiring their arbitration period and each of them are already young superstars. These teams are directly impacted by this extension because many of these players are going to be demanding contracts near the length of Trout’s, and, due to each of them being very young at the beginning of their next contract, will demand very high salaries for their services.
- Yankees – Aaron Judge will be a free agent following the 2022 season. Judge’s power will dictate one of the largest contracts for a pure-power hitter baseball has seen. A safe assumption would be a contract similar to that of teammate Giancarlo Stanton.
- Red Sox – The only player who was able to compare to Mike Trout in 2018, Mookie Betts, will be a free agent following this year. The 26 year-old avoided arbitration by signing $20M deal for 2019, but early indications are showing that a Trout-esque extension is increasingly unlikely. Even outside of Betts, the Red Sox still have concerns of being able to maintain the services of Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, and Andrew Benintendi as Sale and Bogaerts have their contracts expiring this year while Benintendi is under team-control until the end of 2022.
- Indians – While the AL Central champions have locked down superstar third-baseman Jose Ramirez with a long-term contract, superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor will be entering the open market after his age-27 season in 2021. Quiet whispers have started about Lindor potentially becoming the greatest shortstop to ever play the game (see Brian Schlosser’s article on the topic) and that reputation combined with the importance of the shortstop position will demand a massive contract.
- Astros – While the ‘Stros have locked down infielders Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, the other two members of their young core (Carlos Correa and George Springer) are still working through their arbitration years without a long-term commitment. While the team’s current focus is on their starting pitching, they will likely act quick following the playoffs this year to ensure neither of them depart next winter when they both become Free Agents.
- Nationals – The highest-profile upcoming free agent this coming winter is Washington third-baseman Anthony Rendon. Rendon has been outstanding in his four full-seasons in the majors, accumulatin 21.0 bWAR and a very solid .830 OPS. However, 2020 will be Rendon’s age-30 season. Rendon likely won’t get more than four or five years on a deal but will receive a very high average annual value for his services. Rendon, seemingly to the dismay of his agent (Scott Boras), is intent on staying with the Nats, which will likely yield a smaller contract than he would get in
- Braves – While safe for now, the winter of 2023 could become a tough pill to swallow for Atlanta, as both of their phenoms, 22 year-old infielder Ozzie Albies and 21 year-old outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., will become free agents. With both of them being so young at the end of their arbitration years (26 and 25, respectively), both could receive contracts in the neighborhood of the ones Bryce Harper and Manny Machado recently signed.
- Cubs – Since his rookie year, Cubs third-baseman Kris Bryant has been a sensation among his peers. In three full seasons and a little over half of another, Bryant has tallied a .900 OPS, 137 OPS+, and a remarkably-impressive 21.5 bWAR (including 6.1 bWAR or more in each of his first 3 seasons). Unfortunately for the North-Siders, Bryant will reach free agency after the 2021 season. His free agency will likely copy that of Anthony Rendon (should Rendon reach free agency) being that they play the same position and will be the same age entering the open market. Even as a Cardinals fan, however, I think Bryant’s track record will earn him a little bit more money than Rendon will get.
Group 2: Teams Who Were Planning To Sign Trout
Phillies, Dodgers, White Sox, Padres, and Giants
- Phillies – The Phillies were not very quiet about their intent to go after Trout should he have become a free agent after the 2020 season. Newcomer Bryce Harper even received some threats of punishment for tampering after expressing his desire to play with Trout on the Phillies. Furthermore, Trout grew up a Phillies fan in New Jersey and is a die-hard Eagles fan – the match seemed perfect. Now without a possibility to acquire Trout, Philly can now focus on extending the contract of their new franchise catcher, JT Realmuto, as well as dipping their toe into the pool of free agency next winter.
- Dodgers – While there may not have been any real buzz about Trout going to his cross-town rivals, the Dodgers always seem to be in the conversation for any big free agents. People refused to believe they were actually out of the running for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper until they had actually signed elsewhere. While I don’t think this changes the Dodgers’ plans dramatically, it will force them to re-evaluate what players to pursue in free agency over the coming years as many players on their current roster are getting older and nearing retirement.
- Padres – Following the signing of Manny Machado this winter, the Padres are in great position to be serious contenders in the coming years. However, Manuel Margot hasn’t panned out the way the team had hoped and Trout could’ve been the nail in the coffin to a stellar-lineup. While I don’t think this was ever really possible, it would have been very fun to watch.
- Giants and White Sox – Both of these teams, like the Padres, are at least two or three years from having the pieces to really contend, and both are lacking that superstar player to stitch it all together. This seemed more likely than Trout going to the Padres, but still would have been very fun to watch among the likes of Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez or Joey Bart and Madison Bumgarner.
Group 3: Teams That Are In The AL West
Rangers, Astros, Mariners, and Athetics
These teams now have to try and continue to compete against the single-greatest player in baseball, while the Angels continue to build their roster around him. While the Astros are in great position right now, the threat of George Springer, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Carlos Correa all leaving in free agency looms ahead and could cause a major rift in their team’s core. The Rangers and Mariners entered what seems to be a self-inflicted rebuild this winter and won’t be a championship-caliber team for at least a couple years. Finally, the Athletics are likely the team that this effects the least in AL West. The organization wouldn’t have the money to make a run at Trout, even if he had been a free agent, in addition, the Athletics rarely compete for any of the big free agents and prefer to home-grow players because of the organization’s shortage of money. The Athletics will continue doing the same thing they’re doing now and they will continue to succeed considering they have possibly the most intelligent Front Office in the MLB.
Group 4: Teams That Have Mike Trout
The good news is that the Angels no longer need to worry about the prospect of deciding to lose Trout to another team for nothing in two years or trading him away at some point to collect whatever scraps they could. The organization can now go forward and plan their roster around the best player in baseball. The better news is that they already have a selection of prospects with a lot of talent coming up to the majors and a lot of salary falling of the books in the coming years. Ask any Angels fan, and they will likely have a countdown app on their phone that has the end date to Albert Pujols‘ contract programmed in.
To join Trout in the lineup, the Angels will feature shortstop Andrelton Simmons paired with the ninth-ranked prospect at second in Jahmai Jones. Filling the gap at first base after the departure of Pujols and Justin Bour will be ninth-ranked first-baseman prospect Matt Thaiss who’s shown a lot of promise after posting a .802 OPS across Double-A and Triple-A last year. Los Angeles also hopes to team Trout up in the outfield with prospects Jo Adell (#14 prospect overall, #5 Outfielder) and Brandon Marsh (third-ranked prospect in the organization). These six core lineup pieces can provide a lot of offense if the prospect talent pans out, and this does not even account for whatever offensive production will be provided by Shohei Ohtani.
Along with that lineup, the Angels hope to take the field in the coming seasons with a rotation containing Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, and Jaime Barria to add to Ohtani’s pitching appearances. The Halos are also looking to round out their rotation with two of their most promising prospects: Griffin Canning and Jose Suarez. Canning (drafted 47th in 2017) found himself promoted from Class A Advanced all the way to Tripe-A in 2018, and is expected to make his Major-League debut sometime this year. His 2018 season showed a lot of promise as he mowed over hitters in Double-A after his promotion, and has earned himself the title of the #63 prospect in all of baseball to start 2019. Suarez (international free agent signed in 2014) will also begin this year in Triple-A Salt Lake with Canning, and, like Canning, hopes to improve on his struggles at the Triple-A level and prove himself for promotion. The Angels’ number five prospect also hopes to make his MLB debut this year along with Canning.
Trout’s extension brings many hopes to the Angels organization as they look to the future and see a lot of talent coming to the big leagues soon. They may well be entering a period of dominance if they can continue to make smart moves like this one.
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