By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
If the rumors are true, and at this point they appear to be so, Mike Trout has agreed in principal to a deal that will make him an Angel for life.
What a way to turn around the offseason. Prior to today, I would have given the Angels a “B-” for their efforts during the offseason, but all that changed today. This deal changes all that because the biggest potential issue for the next two years has been settled. Mike Trout will be here for another 12 years.
If the proposed numbers hold true, Mike Trout will sign the largest sports contract in history. And well he should. No other player in the history of the game has been as good and productive as Mike Trout at a similar age.
If I could start a baseball team with any single current player in baseball, by far my first choice would be Mike Trout. Not only is he an incredible talent on the field, he is a an incredible asset off the field. His interactions with fans are not forced or reluctant. He genuinely engages with fans before the games. His love for baseball and enthusiasm to play is infectious. He reminds people of all that is good and right in sports, He is humble and honest. He lets his actions speak for themselves and doesn’t seek the limelight. He brings us back to a time when we played baseball and demonstrates our love for the game.
When Mike Trout signs this contract, he will do the one last thing that separated him from the pantheon of baseball greats: he will create a specific time and place for his legacy. Just as Cobb, DiMaggio, Koufax, Ruth, Williams, etc. are all associated with one team and one time, Trout will be forever remember for the time he played and the Angels. Fifty years from now, whether they are Angels fans or not, baseball fans will tell their grandchildren how they saw Mike Trout play for the Angels, just as our grandparents told us about seeing their greats play.
In 2014, When Mike Trout signed his first contract extension, I asked him at the press conference what it meant to him that an entire generation of Angels fans would grow up seeing him play. I compared it to Trout’s hero Derek Jeter, a lifelong Yankee. With this contract extension, multiple generations of Angels fans will grow up seeing him play. And like his hero, it will all be for one team. That’s something special.
But, even more special, is that Angels fans will get to see him evolve. When Mike Trout first broke into the Major Leagues, Torii Hunter took him under his wings and helped show him the ropes. After Torii left, Albert Pujols helped to mentor him.
But, in an interesting story written by Bob Nightengale for USA Today, Mike Trout watched video of the Angels’ top prospect Jo Adell, and even gave Adell his phone number to help him. Mike Trout made an integral part of the Angels’ presentation to Shohei Ohtani by calling and speaking with him, and has since done a lot to help Shohei adapt to life playing baseball in America. That’s the evolution of Mike Trout–from a rookie to a face of a franchise to a mentor to his teammates. This is the Mike Trout team. This is the Mike Trout era.
After the Angels won the World Series in 2002, my favorite moment was seeing Tim Salmon–Mr. Angel–hoist the trophy. Knowing that there were several points where Tim could have left for more money to play for other teams, watching him hold that trophy was magical. Everyone could see that his loyalty and dedication to the team had been rewarded, and the fans loved him for it.
When Mike Trout hoists the World Series trophy–which he will do as an Angel–it will be something even more magical. Just as Salmon was rewarded and loved, so will Trout be. We, the fans, know how much he did (and will do) to earn that moment, and we will thank him for it. There will be a bonding between us and him that will forever connect us in that moment.
An Angel for life. Not many players can say that. But that’s what Trout chose to be, and we are so lucky that he did.