Thursday marks one year since Mike Trout and the Angels agreed to a 12-year, $426.5 million deal that assured the greatest player of this generation playing out his career in one uniform.
Today, instead of being a week away from Opening Day, Trout is home waiting for Rob Manfred to give the owners the green light to begin baseball again. Trout’s return to the field appears to be weeks away but his impact on the game since the signing of last year’s extension cannot be overlooked.
MLB fans went through the winter of 2018-19 hearing about the pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. On February 19, Machado landed a 10-year, $300 million contract with San Diego followed by Harper’s 13-year, $330 million deal with Philadelphia.
In the days and weeks following these two signings, the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox signed All-Stars Nolan Arenado and Chris Sale to massive contract extensions. The stage was set for Billy Eppler and Arte Moreno to negotiate with Trout’s representation and they quickly ironed out their record-setting contract.
The richest contract in North American sports history.
Mike Trout did not disappoint in his first season of 12 under his new deal. The seven-time All-Star went on to his eighth Midsummer Classic and finished the season earning his third American League MVP. The 28-year-old Trout hit .291 with 45 home runs, 104 runs batted in, and a 1.083 OPS despite his season ending Sept. 9 due to a procedure to address neuroma he was dealing with in his right foot. The Millville Meteor earned his seventh Silver Slugger award, second AL Hank Aaron Award, and was a finalist for Gold Glove award in center field.
Trout’s clubhouse leadership was also called into action in the wake of the tragic passing of Tyler Skaggs during the club’s Texas road trip in the first week of July. Trout stood before the microphone and media with his teammates behind him representing the Angels in emotional tribute to his fallen teammate and friend. Trout wore Skaggs‘s No. 45 during his All-Star game appearance and hit a home run in his first pitch he saw back at the Big A after Skaggs’s passing, also while wearing his No. 45 jersey.
Trout’s extension called an end to media speculation that had been swirling around Trout’s future. Gone are the days of national media speculation that Mike Trout will return to his East Coast roots in Philadelphia or New York. Trout is going to be an Angel for life. Just as important to Billy Eppler, Arte Moreno, and the Angels is that they suddenly understand the financial commitment required to keep their future Hall of Fame outfielder. They were able to go into the 2019-20 winter understanding what they have available financially to build around him.
The Angels were in on free agent pitchers Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Zack Wheeler before they signed new off-season contracts with their respective clubs. Moreno was able to sign the top free agent hitter on the market this off-season in Anthony Rendon. The club has several pre-arbitration years of control of Jo Adell and additional top outfield prospects and depth that can be used to acquire a pitcher in the near future.
As of now, Trout’s right foot is healthy. He seemed regular season-ready when Cactus League games were halted a week ago. Trout will go into the 2020 season with a career .305 average, 285 home runs, and 1.000 OPS.
For now, though, Trout will have to wait as the Angels and the rest of baseball wait for the effects of COVID-19 on North America to clear up enough to allow the sport to safely resume to action.
We all hope that happens soon.
Mike Trout and Angels hope when the regular season ends in 2020, it will happen with the Angels successfully playing in the postseason once again.