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So, Mike Trout has signed the largest extension in history. 12 years, $430 million to stay in Anaheim until his age-39 season. He has a full no-trade clause and no opt-outs. For all intents and purposes, he is an Angel for life. What could this deal mean for Trout, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the AL West, the American League, all of Major League Baseball, and the Red Sox?
First, the man himself. Mike Trout is far and away the best player in baseball. It's not even close. Since his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2012, three players have recorded 9+ WAR in a season. Mookie Betts did it once. Bryce Harper did it once. And Trout did it five times. In three of those seasons, Trout broke 10 WAR. Let's put those three times into some context. 19,429 players have played in Major League Baseball. Eight have recorded 10+ WAR in three seasons. Seven are in the Hall of Fame (or should be) and the eighth is Trout. Five of those players, including Trout, have recorded three 10+ WAR seasons before turning 30. Trout is the only one to do it before turning 27. He's incredible at nearly everything baseball has to offer, and is easily worth $430 million, if not even more.
For the Angels, well, they won't do much, at least not yet. Their major league roster has pieces, even outside of Trout. Andrelton Simmons is the greatest defensive player this side of Ozzie Smith, and his offense has substantially improved as well. Shohei Ohtani is a superstar both pitching and hitting when healthy, even if he won't be doing both until 2020. Their pitching is a little suspect, but maybe, just maybe, they can resurrect the Dark Knight in Matt Harvey. In the minors, they have one all-world prospect in outfielder Jo Adell. He is the consensus top prospect in their organization, and all three top prospect ranking sites are high on him, all naming him a top 15 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball. Outside of him, they also have catcher/first baseman Matt Thaiss, who could get some major league playing time this season to give Albert Pujols a day off, and Jordyn Adams, an incredibly athletic outfielder who signed to play football at North Carolina before opting to play baseball instead.
However, this does not change the outlook for the AL West in the short term. The favorites to win the division are still the Astros. They may not have a player as good as Trout is, but they still have a young core coming off back to back 100-win seasons, a World Series win, and an ALCS appearance. There's also the upstart A's, who themselves just won 97 games in 2018 and keep most of the same players for this season. On the other side, they're still better than the Rangers, who are in an all-out rebuild, and the Mariners, who can't decide if they want to blow it all up or try to actually contend for their first postseason berth since 2001. However, they'd probably still be better even without re-signing Trout.
As for the American League, again, not much changes in the short term. The Angels are still not quite World Series contenders, and it isn't bold to say they're not quite playoff level. I previously mentioned that the Houston Astros and Oakland A's are ahead of them in their own division, and that's ignoring the other two in the league. The big ones are the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, who also won 100 games despite Aaron Judge missing significant time and Giancarlo Stanton spending much of the second half with a hamstring injury, both in the AL East. The AL Central is probably the weakest division, with four of its five teams in a rebuild. The one that isn't, the Cleveland Indians, is the weakest of all of the American League’s playoff teams, but still better than the Angels.
For the entirety of Major League Baseball, there's one team most impacted: the Phillies. They, of course, recently signed Bryce Harper to the then-largest contract in sports history, 13 years for $330 million. Trout has been connected to the Phillies ever since it first appeared the end of his Angels tenure was in sight. Trout is from south Jersey, but grew up a Phillies fan. He's still connected to Philadelphia, as he is frequently seen at Philadelphia Eagles games as a season ticket holder. The Angels made sure he could never go home, and personally I don't believe that it was a coincidence the Angels paid Trout exactly $100 million more than the Phillies paid Harper. Still, it's hard to feel bad for them, given they added a historically great player, even if he isn't Mike Trout.
Now for the Red Sox. While they still have to deal with Trout for the next decade, well, at least he's out of the division. Trout, shockingly, is amazing against the Red Sox. He's slashed .311/.408/.527 with a .935 OPS, 52 hits, 8 home runs, 31 runs scored, and 7 stolen bases in 9 attempts against the Red Sox. And when he plays in Fenway Park? He might be just as good: .350/.441/.475, a .916 OPS, 28 hits, 14 runs scored, and 6 stolen bases, although he has yet to hit his first Fenway home run. Still, with how great Trout is (and how much of a hitters park Fenway is) don't be surprised when it finally happens.
The difference between Mike Trout and every other young player in the majors today is this: guys like Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, Jose Altuve, whoever- they're all great players. Some historically so. In ten or fifteen years, we could be talking about them as Hall of Famers. Mike Trout is already a Hall of Fame player as it is. In ten or fifteen years, we could be talking about him as the greatest player of all time. And that right there is why he's worth the largest contract in the history of sports.