Mike Trout’s Faith in Angels Immediately Undermined By Anthony Rendon

Mike Trout remains loyal to the Los Angeles Angels despite the tenuous state of the franchise and his co-stars lack of enthusiasm for baseball.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 14: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates with Anthony Rendon #6 and Shohei Ohtani #17 after they scored runs against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Fenway Park on April 14, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Mike Trout has been a loyal soldier for the Los Angeles Angels, probably to a fault at this point. He explained Monday why he still remains hopeful about the future of the Halos, only to be undermined by one of the expensive free-agent signings on the roster that has failed to help Trout and the Angels become a consistent contender.

As it became clear late in the 2023 season that the Angels were going to almost certainly lose two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani in free agency, many wondered about what that would mean for Trout.

Last year marked the eighth-consecutive losing season for the Angels, and ninth in a row without making the playoffs. If Ohtani departed, it seemed to many like the perfect time for Trout to throw up his hands and ask for a trade to a contending team.

If anything, the three-time AL MVP had waited too long to try to orchestrate a move to a new team, making the playoffs one time (2014) in 13 seasons with the Angels.

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But Ohtani did leave — signing a 10-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and immediately making them the odds-on World Series favorites. And yet, there never ended up being much discussion about a trade of Trout this offseason.

That’s because the 11-time All-Star didn’t ask for one.

“I think the biggest thing right now is taking the easy way out is just to ask for a trade,” Trout said Monday, according to Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register.

“There might be a time. Maybe. I haven’t really thought about this,” Trout said of eventually asking to be moved.

Once upon a time, Trout was set to become a free agent after the 2020 season. The Philadelphia Phillies — who amount to the hometown team for the Millville, NJ native — seemingly were beginning to plot a run for Trout in free agency. Bryce Harper not-so-subtly said as much when the Phillies introduced him in March of 2019.

Certainly, other big-market contenders would have been players for Trout on the open market as well. Instead, a couple weeks after Harper’s quotes, Trout signed a 10-year extension with the Angels. When added onto the two remaining years of his deal, the pact came out to be a 12-year, $430 million contract. It seemingly put the idea of him playing somewhere other than Anaheim to bed.

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“But when I signed that contract, I’m loyal. I want to win a championship here,” Trout continued. “The overall picture of winning a championship or getting to the playoffs here is bigger satisfaction than bailing out and just taking the easy way out.”

“So I think that’s been my mindset,” Trout said. “Maybe down the road, if some things change, but that’s been my mindset ever since the trade speculation came up.”

The problem with what Trout is saying is that the trade speculation came up well before his current contract, as it was clear that the Angels were wasting the peak of one of the greatest players in MLB history. Five seasons have gone by since Trout signed his new contract, and the Angels haven’t sniffed the playoffs, going 321-387 (.453) over that period.

Not only did the Angels manage to waste another half decade of Trout’s career, but arguably the greatest player the sport has ever seen in Ohtani.

And it’s not like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Ohtani, wisely, bolted in free agency. If the Angels were a 73-win team with Ohtani winning his second AL MVP a year ago, what will they be without him in 2024?

Reid Detmers is currently slated to be their Opening Day starter. This isn’t meant to pick on Detmers, who is a former first-round pick that logged 148 2/3 innings a year ago. But he finished 2023 with a 4.48 ERA. That’s not someone who should be the first, second or third starter for a contending team.

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And that says nothing of replacing the offensive production Ohtani put up a year ago, when he led the AL in home runs (44), on-base percentage (.412), slugging percentage (.654)) and OPS (1.066). There are still some free agents available that could be nice offensive additions for the Angels, such as J.D. Martinez. But they aren’t Ohtani.

Don’t expect them to be players for free-agent third baseman Matt Chapman. That’s because they’ve already got $114 million committed to the position over the next three seasons in the form of Anthony Rendon.

Anthony Rendon’s Contract Has Held the Angels Back

Make no mistake, Rendon was once one of the best hitters in baseball. Between 2017 and 2020, Rendon slashed .307/.399/.550, with his 21.2 fWAR sixth among all position players over that period. He helped the Washington Nationals to win the World Series in 2019, and actually had a strong first campaign with the Angels, albeit during the 60-game pandemic season.

But Rendon has been limited by injuries to just 148 of a possible 486 games over the last three seasons. Even more troubling is that he seemingly takes just about every chance he gets to remind you that he doesn’t really like baseball.

And on the same morning that Trout talked about being loyal to the Angels, Rendon sounded like someone who is just punching a clock, counting the days until his contract is over and he can stop playing the sport.

Sam Blum of The Athletic provided a transcript of the following exchange that Rendon had with the media Monday.

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Trout also talked Monday about “pushing” owner Arte Moreno and general manager Perry Minasian to be players for some of the remaining free agents. We mentioned Martinez and Chapman above, while two-time Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, former NL MVP Cody Bellinger and 2023 World Series Champion Jordan Montgomery are all still on the market as well.

Snell and Montgomery would each make sense for an Angels team that’s seemingly been desperate for pitching during the entirety of Trout’s tenure.

And for as badly as the Angels have botched this, you can’t say that Moreno hasn’t been willing to spend money, as he’s given out megadeals to the likes of Trout, Rendon, Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton during his tenure as owner. Unfortunately, most of those deals haven’t panned out, and it’s a big reason why the Angels haven’t been able to make the best of Trout’s career.

And while there’s something cool about being loyal to the team that drafted you, Trout is entering his 14th season. At a certain point, still being loyal to the Angels is foolish. And that point was probably reached years ago, around the same time that Rendon stopped pretending to care.