As the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim injuries pile up and a playoff berth becomes less likely, there has been a lot of speculation whether or not Mike Trout would become available. Nick Cafardo highlighted 10 teams that would be interested. There should be no surprise as to who is on the list as they are the top markets and have the largest payroll year in and year out.
Let me offer a different team. The Atlanta Braves. While a trade for Trout could be hell for him as they are in the midst of one of the worst seasons in recent memory, it is exactly what the Braves have been waiting for.
The last few seasons the front office traded away every valuable asset they had and stockpiled young controllable starting pitching. There was two big reasons for this shift: They were not winning with the team as they were configured so why continue to expect different results? But also to replenish a horrible farm system.
With starting pitching garnering staggering contracts, the Braves restocked one of the league’s worst farm systems.
The hope was they could possibly flip some of those prized prospects for top power bats that would be hard to come by.
Enter Mike trout.
A trade for Trout would not be for this year, but for 2017 and beyond.
The Braves will move into their new stadium next year and have pledged to spend big. What better way to do that with one of the best players on the planet?
Let’s start with his contract. He is owed $122 million (plus 2016 salary dependent on remaining balance) through 2020. That is a lot of money, but not only is Trout worth it, the Braves have been preparing for such a situation as they have shed bad contracts left and right. Their projected 2017 payroll is around $45 million guaranteed. There is room for a big contract. With Bryce Harper potentially getting over $40 million per year, Trout may even be a bit of a bargain.
Who gets traded? Of course every top prospect will be asked for. Names like Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, and Sean Newcomb (traded for Andrelton Simmons) come to mind. Would Julio Teheran be considered given he can contribute to the team now?
Acquiring Trout would mean a trade of Ender Inciarte or Nick Markakis, the former most likely. The Braves fielded many offers shortly after Inciarte was acquired. He has a lot of upside, is controllable and can replace Trout in the outfield. I am sure the Braves would rather trade Markakis in order to save money, and an outfield of Trout, Inciarte and Mallex Smith would be incredible.
So what would the return look like? Let’s start with Teheran and Inciarte. Improves the Angels rotation and above average replacement in center field. I do not believe the Braves part with Albies or Swanson and it would be boring to get back Newcomb. So, we will add Touki Toussaint and Mike Soroka, the number 6 and 13 prospects in the system.
All told, the Angels get two major league ready starters, only 25, and two young pitchers who have not yet reached the age of 20. If the Angels were interested in a lower-level prospect, I am sure the Braves would oblige.
How would the Braves look? Again, this is looking towards 2017. The Braves are already selling season tickets for next year, and I am sure knowing Trout will be roaming the outfield would invigorate the fan base.
They still would have plenty of pitching prospects in the pipeline. The rotation would boast Wisler, Blair, Foltynewicz and likely Tyrell Jenkins and Manny Banuelos. That is with Newcomb, Lucas Sims, Max Fried and Kolby Allard getting closer. Let us not forget a high draft pick this year and next year which could be used on pitching.
How does the offense take form? Trout and Freddie Freeman in the middle of the lineup.
Projected 2017 lineup:
3B Rio Ruiz
By no means would the team become a playoff contender instantly. There is room for improvement in there. Third base and catching can be upgraded and the bullpen has been horrible this season. But given the youth of the team, and other moves that can be made to improve the ball club, the Braves turnaround would be faster than expected. So why not the Braves? Is the National League East big enough for Mike Trout and Bryce Harper?