By William McInerney
One thing New York Mets fans love to think about and hope for is trading for the big superstars in the game. I enjoy it as well, and it’s fun to fantasize about guys like Mike Trout and Jose Urias in the blue and orange, but it’s important to be careful of reaching too far. Once we start suggesting trades for a team to make, we need to ensure the trades suggested are realistic, ones the other team would make.
One suggestion I’ve seen is trading Seth Lugo (this trade was suggested in the spring before his injury by the way), Rafael Montero, Jay Bruce and Brandon Nimmo to the Angles for Trout (and if the people who suggested it are reading this don’t think I’m trying to embarrass you or anything, I just think it’s a good example). As much as I would love to get Trout, this trade is unrealistic, which is a problem because unrealistic trade suggestions usually lead to disappointed fan bases when the trade isn’t made.
The Mets aren’t sending a lot to the Angles in these four players. Lugo is a 27-year-old rookie who was good for two months. Before that he was a non-prospect who only came up because of many injuries to Mets pitchers, and he carried a 4.28 ERA in the minors, which suggests his 2.67 ERA in the majors was more of a fluke than something he will sustain.
Bruce is a 30-year-old corner outfielder who, while off to a great start, can only play the corners, while Trout plays center. Additionally, he’s worse defensively and doesn’t bring the same value offensively as Trout. Nimmo is a player who has taken some time to develop, and although he has potential and I believe he’ll be solid, there are some who question if he will reach his potential.
At this point, it’s very fair to call Montero a bust. He hasn’t been able to get outs in the major leagues, and frankly I don’t believe he has the confidence to get MLB hitters out.
Meanwhile, Trout is the best hitter in the league today, in addition to being young (only 25 if you can believe that, he’s younger than both Lugo and Montero), signed through 2020, super marketable, and there is never any issues or drama with him in the clubhouse (you never see him getting choked out by a teammate like a certain other young superstar outfielder).
Trout is a two-time AL MVP, the 2012 rookie of the year, Hank Aaron award winner, five-time all-star (never played a full season without being an all-star), and a five-time silver slugger (just like the all-star game, every full season played he was a silver slugger). In five years he’s done more than most players do in their career. His 162-game season average, including his 40-game cameo as a 19-year-old, is a .308 average, .407 OBP, 34 home runs, 99 RBI, 95 walks and 29/34 on steals. Once again, this is his AVERAGE season, and he’s just entering his prime. That’s better than most players’ best season. The guy is simply the best hitter in the game today.
If all a GM gets for that is Lugo, Montero, Bruce and Nimmo, he’s getting fired instantly and he fully deserves to be. The best player in the game and you get one player who may help you long term. If I were a fan of the Angels and they got that return for someone like Trout I’d be outside the team’s office everyday screaming at them to fire the GM. If you’re trading Trout you better be getting a LOT more than that.
That said, the Trout to the Mets dreams have been around for a while. Frankly I don’t know where it’s come from, there has been no indication from the Angels that they want to trade him, nor do they have any compelling reason to trade him. It’s not like he wants out, he seems very happy in LA.
But let’s ignore all of that for a second. If theoretically, the Angels were looking to trade Trout, what would the cost be?
One thing that needs to be considered: If the Angels are looking to trade Trout, every single one of the other 29 teams are going to be looking to get him. It would be a bidding war like no other. The Angels could probably pick pretty much any player (maybe 10 players in the league would be off limits even for Trout) they want and get him and more for Trout. He is THAT good.
But let’s ignore that too, and assume they’re committed to making a trade with the Mets (yes, we are ignoring a lot and assuming a lot, but that’s the only way that Trout is getting traded). I’m leaving Syndergaard out because with his ability and age, he may be one of the players that don’t get moved. So, assuming Syndergaard is off limits for the Angels and they accept this, what’s the price?
If I’m the GM moving Trout, I need Michael Conforto, Matt Harvey and Amed Rosario to make a trade happen. And that’s where it starts. I want another couple of players who are in the lower levels (something like Wuilmer Becerra in the Syndergaard trade, a guy who may not become anything but with the right development team can become a starter). Is it a lot? Yes. But Trout is the best hitter in the game.
Remember, the Mets got Travis d’Arnaud and Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey, who was 14 years older, and coming off only one good year, not five amazing ones. Trout getting traded would be the biggest trade since Alex Rodriguez got traded to the Yankees, and he was five years older, clashed with teammates, and the Rangers couldn’t afford to keep his salary and were thus looking to trade him. Combining those factors with Trout’s incredible numbers, the ask for Trout is going to be higher.
If I’m the Angels GM, my ask for Trout is very high. That’s how good he is. If the Mets as a fanbase want Trout, they need to be prepared to give up a lot more than most of the suggestions I’ve seen and heard.