Now that Mike Trout is in place for the balance of his career, here are five more moves the Angels have to make.
Two years ahead of when he could have hit free agency, the Los Angeles Angels have made sure Mike Trout is staying around. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the two sides are finalizing a deal that will pay Trout a record $430 million over the next 12 years. Accounting for the $33.25 million he is already scheduled to make in each of the next two seasons, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY boiled the deal down to its essentials — 10 years and $363.5 million in new money starting in 2021, with no opt-outs and a full no-trade clause.
Trout has only made the playoffs once in his career, and that was a three-game ALDS sweep by the Kansas City Royals in 2014. The Angels have finished below .500 in three straight years, and they swapped out long-time skipper Mike Scioscia for Brad Ausmus after last year.
It’s not that the Angels haven’t tried to surround Trout with talent. But the minor league system went through a downturn before rebounding recently, and contracts that quickly turned bad (Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson) have been the norm when big free agent splashes have been made.
Even with Trout showing no signs of slowing down, and his being in place until his 30s are winding down, the Angels need to have some sense of urgency to win. The Houston Astros are the class of the AL West, but after that it’s wide open and a push to add 10-plus wins to last year’s 80 and make the playoffs this year has to be considered.
With that in mind, here are five moves the Angels must make on the heels of locking up Trout well into the future.
5. Sign Craig Kimbrel
Yes, Craig Kimbrel is still out there, and yes, he’s on the fast track to being this year’s version of Greg Holland as a late signing who will have an abysmal start as someone’s closer. But Kimbrel is an elite closer until proven otherwise, even with last year’s drop-off more in line with his career norms. Meanwhile, current Angels’ closer Cody Allen is coming off a rough season for the Cleveland Indians (4.70 ERA).
The Angels could look to bolster the bullpen, in lieu of addressing the starting rotation. Kimbrel is a top option to do just that, even with the prospect of a down April as he gets up to speed, and can solidify everything around him in the late innings.