At some point, an MLB player will score a contract worth a half-billion dollars.
It's an absurd notion, but it's coming. And Mike Trout may be the man to cash in.
Heading into this winter, all eyes will be on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Harper is 25 years old and Machado is 26. Both are generational talents with sterling resumes.
That said, neither has performed at peak level in his contract year.
Harper has cracked 34 home runs but is hitting a ho-hum .246 for the Washington Nationals, who will miss the postseason.
Both players will get paid. Neither is likely to crack the $500 million threshold.
What about Trout? You don't need his resume, but we'll supply it anyway. Between 2012 and today, he has made seven All-Star appearances, won a pair of American League MVP awards and amassed 63.7 WAR by FanGraphs' calculation.
The next-highest WAR totals during that span belong to Andrew McCutchen (36.3) and Josh Donaldson (36.2). Trout is almost literally lapping the field.
This year, he's launched 38 home runs and leads both leagues with a 1.093 OPS.
Oh, and the guy celebrated his 27th birthday on August 7. Technically he's just entering his prime.
OK, Trout is great. That's not news to anybody. How does his greatness translate to a $500 million payday?
Let's turn to Fancred's Jon Heyman, who reported that, "The Angels are expected to try again to make Mike Trout a lifetime Angel when they discuss a contract this winter, and one rival agent suggested Trout's agent would be wise to wait until free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are signed to provide the floor."
Yes, you read that right. Harper and Machado will be the floor.
The Halos will pay Trout $33.25 million in 2019 and 2020. Barring a shocking trade, he'll remain in Anaheim for the next two seasons.
After that, he could become the most coveted free agent in baseball history. Or, the Angels could lock him up for the long haul.
In March 2014, Trout inked a six-year, $144.5 million extension with the Angels. It was a massive pact for a player who, at the time, had only a pair of full big league campaigns under his belt.
It also displayed Trout's loyalty to the franchise that drafted him 25th overall in 2009.
Will that loyalty lead him to another, larger, lifetime deal in the $500M range?
Maybe. Here's the fly in the ointment: Trout has the hardware and individual accolades but doesn't have postseason success.
Trout has played in a scant three playoff games, all losses. In 12 at-bats on the game's brightest stage, he's managed just a single hit plus three walks. In typical Trout fashion, the hit was a home run, but that's still a minuscule sample size.
"Obviously I want to win," Trout said recently, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. "It's not a good feeling being in early September and you're out of it. It's definitely in the back of my mind, but you've got to trust the front office."
The Angels made moves last winter. Most notably, they signed two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, who has been derailed by elbow problems but has displayed tantalizing power and pitching prowess this season.
Despite the Angels' futility, there is a world where Trout sticks with them and finally makes a run.
MLB might wish he'd go to a more high-profile club; up the I-5 freeway to the Los Angeles Dodgers or across the country to the New York Yankees. Earlier this season, Commissioner Rob Manfred all but said Trout was squandering his opportunity as the game's pre-eminent star.
That's never been Trout's style, however. He's not flashy. He doesn't covet the spotlight.
The Angels seem prepared to offer him untold riches to keep wearing their uniform. And nothing in Trout's brilliant, understated career indicates he'd say no.
It's silly to suggest a player could humbly accept a half-billion dollars. But if anyone can do it, it's Mike Trout.