The Phillies are in desperate need of a superstar. They need a draw, someone who can help them sell tickets and anchor their lineup for the foreseeable future.
Listening to local radio chatter and reading fan message boards it is clear there is only one player who fits that profile—Millville, NJ’s own Mike Trout.
Mike Trout patrolling centerfield in Citizens Bank Park wearing a Phillies uniform would be a dream come true for many fans and locals. There is an added appeal to having the game’s best player in your lineup when he grew up in your backyard, a Phillies fan all his life, and was actually at the ballpark—tailgating, in the parking lot—the night the team clinched its most recent World Championship.
Could the Phillies have draftedMike Trout?
Possibly, but not likely. Due to the free agent signing of Raul Ibanez their first pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft—27th overall—went to Seattle, but Trout was selected two spots earlier anyway.
However, what if the Phillies had had their own pick, wanted Trout, and offered him substantially more money than Anaheim would have been willing to invest? Could that have brought Trout to Philadelphia? (A similar situation happened with A.J. Pollock in the same draft, when Boston was interested a few spots before Arizona but wouldn’t commit the $1.7M he eventually got as the 17th overall pick.)
Even if the Phillies liked Trout back then, and had their own pick, it’s unlikely they would have stepped up to get him. For all the money they spend, and have shown a willingness to spend, on their major league payroll, the Phillies do not seem inclined to invest much of if on amateur talent.
They will easily fork over $10M+ for a washed up, position-less Howie Kendrick, but won’t get involved in bidding for Cuban sensation Luis Robert.
In any case Mike Trout is not a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and he likely never will be. At this point in time that’s probably a good thing, too. Waiting until he’s a free agent (3+ years) and then outbidding the rest of baseball for his services is foolish.
The Phillies’ rebuilding plan hopefully puts them in contention long before the 2021 season—Trout’s first in a new contract. More importantly, though, would be that by then Mike Trout will be 29 years old and have already played the best baseball he ever will.
In the post-PED era players simply do not get better in their thirties than they were in their twenties. Trout is on his way to being one of the best players to ever play the game, but he could also easily become his teammate, Albert Pujols…a player who gives his Hall of Fame-production to one club, then cash’s the reward checks with another.
The Phillies would be wise to not be that team.
The Phillies could trade for Trout, but Anaheim has shown zero willingness to part with him. Even if they did,the Phillies do not have the pieces. While their farm system has been greatly improved in recent seasons, they still lack that premier, impact prospect a package for Trout would be centered around.
The Phillies could gut their entire farm system for Trout, offering every young player they have, and it still likely wouldn’t be better than what some teams could offer.
If the Angels ever do decide to shop Trout, the matchup with the Yankees makes way too much sense. A historic franchise with a longterm need in centerfield, a farm system rich with front-line prospect, and an organization that has always prided itself on employing the game’s best and most dramatic players.
Who better to be the next great Yankee than the one who has been compared to Mickey Mantle since stepping foot in the league?
If Trout does end up in the Bronx—and even if he doesn’t—the Phillies should target Bryce Harper instead. He may not be the lovable, local player Trout is, but he’s easier to obtain (requiring only money, of which the Phillies have plenty), and his skillset would play fantastically at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies have dropped every hint that they intend to spend big on free agents soon. Why not start with the biggest, signing a 26 year old Harper to a mega deal that transforms the National League East for the next decade?