One of the best players in Major League Baseball—Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout—might be available on the trade market, and there's talk the Philadelphia Phillies could be a potential landing spot, no matter how unlikely said move might be.
On Sunday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted: "Perhaps for the first time, [the Angels] are open to trading All-Star outfielder Mike Trout if he indicates to them that he wants out. Trout has exclusive no-trade rights and said recently that he wants to have a private conversation with the front office and ownership about their direction."
Then on Monday, Robert Murray of FanSided noted that the likelihood of a trade "ranged from anywhere from unlikely to highly, highly unlikely" on the The Baseball Insiders podcast. Murray went on to note that if Trout would request a trade, "the obvious fit would be Philadelphia … but I don't know if the Phillies have the payroll flexibility to end up doing something like that."
Trout, who has exclusive no-trade rights, is signed with the Angels through the 2030 season. After this season, he is still owed $248.5 million across the next seven seasons. The Phillies, who are carrying the league's fifth-largest payroll in 2023 ($245.1 million), currently have the second-highest payroll in 2024 ($194 million) ahead of free agency, according to Spotrac.
Aside from the financial side of things, there are durability concerns surrounding Trout.
The 32-year-old has struggled to stay on the field the past few seasons. This year, a wrist injury has kept the 11-time All-Star sidelined for the majority of games going back to the beginning of July. The 2016 season was the last time he played more than 140 games a year. In 2023, the center fielder is slashing .263/.367/.490 with 18 home runs, 44 RBI and two stolen bases in 82 games. From 2012 to 2019, a span that includes three MVP awards, Trout slashed .308/.422/.587 with an average of 35 home runs, 92 RBI and 24 steals a season while averaging 145 games played a year.
With the Angels close to being eliminated from the postseason for the 13th time in the past fourteen seasons and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani likely set to leave in free agency after this year, it's not out of the question that Trout would want out of the city that drafted him back in 2009. Considering Trout grew up in New Jersey as a Philly sports fan, let's consider the Phillies would make the list of teams he'd waive his no-trade for.
So where would Trout fit in with the current Phillies lineup? One Phillies legend—shortstop Jimmy Rollins—mocked up a couple of possible 2024 Phillies lineups in the event the superstar lands in Philadelphia next season:
Phillies fans were quick to jump into the comments to go back-and-forth with the 2007 National League MVP over his predictions.
As some pointed out, outfielder Brandon Marsh was noticeably absent from both of Rollins' hypothetical lineups with Trout. The 25-year-old, who the Angels traded to the Phillies in 2022, has become a reliable piece in the lineup this year, hitting .286 with 10 home runs and 53 RBI. Among qualified hitters in the Phillies lineup, Marsh is third in batting average, second in on-base percentage (.377), second in on-base plus slugging percentage (.841) and second in OPS+ (129).
In his second mockup, another young center fielder is missing—23-year-old Johan Rojas, who is hitting .280 with one home run, 18 RBI and nine stolen bases in 44 games.
As Rollins noted, though, good, young players are one avenue to landing a superstar via trade:
Another topic fans brought up was the order of the lineup, since both projections have shortstop Trea Turner leading off. Even though his season average is only at .201, on Sept. 6 against the San Diego Padres, left fielder Kyle Schwarber belted his 10th leadoff home run of the season, passing the record set by Jimmy Rollins in 2007. Manager Rob Thomson doesn't seem inclined to move the slugger from his spot in the lineup anytime soon.
And while second baseman Bryson Stott and infielder Alec Bohm have proved to be consistent everyday contributors who have climbed up the lineup, Rollins noted that putting them at the bottom wouldn't be a bad thing. It would just ensure the opposing team has no easy outs, one through nine:
While it's fun to speculate about what a potential Phillies lineup could look like with Trout, most fans agree that there are other areas of need for this ballclub, including starting pitching and bullpen arms. As it stands, the Phillies are focused on trying to get back to the World Series for a second straight year with the current group of players they have assembled.
And if they happen to get the slim chance in the offseason to pursue one of the top players in baseball? Well, no one would be shocked if they decide to go all in and figure out how to shuffle the lineup afterward.