Imagine you have the opportunity to play baseball for a living. You’re a made man. No matter the team you play on in Major League Baseball, you’re the reason why the fans are paying for tickets and you see an entire legion of baseball fans across the country wearing the jersey that proudly displays your last name. Many die-hard baseball purists are calling you “the best player in baseball.” Your contract is up in 2020 and it is currently 2019. Even in 2018, this was the common knowledge that each major league franchise was salivating over. You’re the king fish in a deep sea. It’s no surprise here, everyone wants to catch Mike Trout.
A son to a former MLB player, Jeff Trout, Mike Trout is not living in the shadow. He is a local of Vineland, New Jersey and a Philadelphia Phillies die-hard throughout his entire life. I relate to the fandom. Mike’s father played baseball for my alma-mater, the University of Delaware, a state without a major league team. Many of us sing the same sentiments of the closest market available, the Philadelphia market. Myself, being the Philadelphia Phillies fan that I am, I shared the same passion and loyalty to the Philadelphia Phillies that Mike Trout shows to this day. When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Mike Trout was at that parade. So was I. When the Philadelphia Eagles won Superbowl 52, Mike Trout was at that parade. Me too. This is the relationship that one man, who happens to be the best at his craft, has to a sports city. I can relate to the passion that it takes to be a Philadelphia die-hard. So when Mike Trout was drafted to the Los Angeles Angels, it may have been only a matter of time before the city of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Phillies organization made it a priority to push to sign him once he becomes a free agent. Tick tock.
More recently, the Philadelphia Phillies broke the sports world by signing Bryce Harper to a thirteen year, 330 million dollar contract without any opt out clause. Fans can have all the opinion in the world about Harper’s contract. Some say that the Phillies overpaid. Some say that the Phillies got their man. At one point before signing him, my feeling is that I just wanted Harper to sign somewhere, anywhere. I would be lying to you if I told you that I am mad that Harper is a Philadelphia Phillie. It took less than a week for Bryce Harper to reach out to Mike Trout. “If you don’t think I’m not gonna call Mike Trout in 2020 to have him come to Philly, you’re crazy,” said Philadelphia’s newest acquisition. Harper then doubled down, “if I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t have said it.” This isn’t anything new across any sport. Elite players are friends because talent respects talent, real recognizes real, and game knows game. That is the relationship of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in Major League Baseball and it’s almost time for the Philadelphia Phillies to prosper because of it.
In the idea of “tampering,” I disagree that it’s just that. During the Philadelphia Eagles season, how many games did Mike Trout attend on his own? Just about every possible home game for multiple seasons. Harper even said that in 2020, he is going to reach out to Trout. Trout is a free agent in 2020. He has the right to take his ball and bring it to whatever city he wants, regardless of any words that Harper can muster. If “tampering” is just now being labeled, then I would love to know what exactly it was called when LeBron James was busy forming super teams in Miami. As recently as this week, LeVeon Bell is reaching out to Landon Collins, Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, and Eric Weddle. This idea of “tampering” suggests that other players need to reach out to a superstar to attact a championship team. The difference between championship chasing and the case of Mike Trout is that Trout clearly wants Philadelphia on his own. No one needs to “tamper.” This is more an inevitability than a case of “tampering.” Harper hasn’t yet reached out directly to Mike Trout, but he just clued in what is on everyone’s mind. Like I said earlier, this is common knowledge. It’s like being able to complete the sentence with Trout’s name, but Harper never said the full statement.
In 2020, Mike Trout will be just 28 years old and most likely on a new team. When he hits the open market, get ready for another off-season akin to Bryce Harper and his talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and the Philadelphia Phillies this season. There will be good free agents available, but the one everyone will have the patience for is Trout. I would guess that we would be speaking about a contract of just about ten years, 316 million. That would be a team friendly offer. The culture and fit of Philadelphia to Mike Trout is perfect.
In negotiating, the patient fisherman wins. Just because you caught the first fish does not mean that you have the most bountiful dinner. “Tampering” isn’t necessary here. Mike Trout is going to play ball. When his contract runs out, Philadelphia will roll out the red carpet with one of the best lineups that you could care to imagine in the MLB. Currently, the “Bryce Is Right,” but the Philadelphia Phillies are casting their line to catch the biggest Trout in the sea.
Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports