ANAHEIM, CA-Head and shoulders, Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. If you check out his stat line, he has been the best at what he does for quite some time. Entering his ninth season in the big leagues, Trout has already bagged two most valuable player awards and has been named as an All-Star seven times.
Trout’s remarkable run thus far as a pro include smacking 30 or more home runs in a season five times and has been handed six Silver Sluggers honors.
Those numbers are impressive, but the stat sheet doesn’t really tell the whole story of how much Trout is a transformational player. The Los Angeles Angels see Trout much more than that. They see him as a once-in-a-generation kind of player.
With that distinction, the Angels decided to reward Trout with the biggest contract in team sports, officially handing over the keys to the franchise their superstar outfielder with a 12-year, $430 million contract. With that kind of investment in the 27-year-old slugger, it is safe to say that Trout is pretty much set as an “Angel for life.”
“This is an exciting time to celebrate Mike and all of his accomplishment’s, on and off the field,” Angels owner Arte Moreno said. “We all get an opportunity to watch him and his teammates play the game we all love for many, many years to come.”
That tagline was once also given to Albert Pujols when he joined the Angels when he was given a reportedly 10-year, $254 million contract after leaving the St. Louis Cardinals. The difference between then and now is that Trout is set to make $176 million more than Pujols and has far more upside to his game at the time of his contract than that of the future Hall of Famer.
Either way, the Angels have their man. And they’re happy about it. On Sunday, March 24, Trout and the Angels made it official on the long-term deal with a press conference prior taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a Freeway Series training camp matchup at Angel Stadium.
“We’re extremely proud to say that we’re keeping Mike Trout in an Angels uniform for the next twelve seasons,” Angels GM Billy Eppler said. “Like Arte (Moreno) said, I know this was something on his mind for a while, and it was something that Arte and John (Carpino, club president) and I discussed a number of times the past couple of seasons. Those thoughts ultimately led to discussions that began in late February, and they culminated earlier this week with an agreement. Ultimately, we were able to keep Mike home. In the baseball sense, he was born an Angel and he was raised an Angel and he represents this organization better than anybody.”
Angels management, players, and coaches shared in on the Trout’s moment in the sun. Fans coming to the ballpark, showed with signs and banners, and photo plaques of Trout, hoping their favorite player would have some time to snap up selfies with them or sign autographs. There was plenty of buzz going on outside of the ballpark with Trout wonderment.
While then the moment was roused high with feel-good emotion, there is a reality and challenge of having a player of Trout’s magnitude and financial clout to do something special on the field. After 19 years, the Angels departed from the coaching of Mike Scioscia, who stepped down from his managerial duties.
Scioscia guided the Angels to a World Series triumph in 2002 against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. Last season, though, the Angels finished fourth in the American League West. With Scioscia gone, the Angels have a new manager in Ausmus and perhaps a new direction to take the ballclub.
That direction will have a full-scale approach with Trout front and center.
“Mike just doesn’t want to be successful,” Eppler said. “Mike also wants to be significant. The difference in those two things to me is that being successful means you accomplished something. But being significance means you helped someone else accomplish something. That’s what a good teammate does. And that’s what a leader does. He makes the person next to him better. Our goal as an organization is to win a World Series. So, accomplishing that goal takes talented players, no doubt. But it takes a strong culture to find leadership, teamwork, and character, and there’s no one better suited to advance us to that goal on all fronts than Mike Trout.”
Trout sounded like he was on board with Eppler, echoing the general manager’s sentiments about winning a title.
“I want to bring a championship back to Anaheim,” Trout said.
When asked about some of the factors and that played into his decision on staying put in Anaheim or going elsewhere, Trout said there was a myriad of things he had to consider over the last couple of seasons. Having Eppler in the fold and where the team is headed in the future, worked in favor of the Angels.
“I think the last couple of years…bringing in Eppler, the relationship I have with the front office…the things he does in the offseason, he brings in players (and) try to put the pieces together to make a great team,” said Trout. “Obviously, [there has been] a lot of talk about going back East and going back to Philly (Philadelphia), but I enjoy every minute being here. This is my home. I love it. A lot of things went into it. I think the direction of the franchise…that was big for me. I think if it was going the other way, I would have had to consider going, but it never crossed my mind that was I was going to be an Angel for life for sure.”