Will the Angels Get Mike Trout the Help He Deserves After Another MVP Season?

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterNovember 15, 2019

Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout during a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Mike Trout has secured yet another American League MVP award. Now it's on the Los Angeles Angels to ensure his next one is more than just a consolation prize.

It is indeed safe to assume there's another MVP in Trout's future. The 28-year-old center fielder has finished no lower than fourth in the voting every year since 2012. And despite the Angels' 90-loss 2019, he captured his third MVP Thursday night:

Trout's latest triumph put him in exclusive company as one of only 11 players in Major League Baseball history to win at least three MVPs. Barry Bonds (seven) is the only player who's won more than three.

"It's been incredible," Trout said on MLB Network, per MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. "My career so far, it's gone by so fast, been unbelievable. All the hard work. Can't do it without my teammates, my coaches, all the guys who helped on my path, my wife, my family. It means a lot to me."

Houston Astros third baseman/shortstop Alex Bregman deserves a shoutout for giving Trout a real challenge for the award. According to Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus, the wins above replacement gap between the two players was so small so as to basically be moot.

But ultimately, the better player won.

Though Trout's season-ending foot injury opened the door for Bregman to play in 22 more games, Trout hit four more home runs (45 to 41) and led the American League with a .438 on-base percentage, .645 slugging percentage and 1.083 OPS.

Throw in Trout's clutch hitting with runners in scoring position (1.159 OPS) and high-leverage situations (.987 OPS) and his adequate defense in center field, and you get, well, an MVP.

The Angels can't ask any more of Trout. His 72.5 career WAR are already more than any other player has ever accumulated through his age-27 season, and he finds new ways of getting better every year. To wit, he became a rare power threat in 2019.

For his part, Trout is surely happy with the record-setting $430 million contract extension the Angels signed him to earlier this year. But since 2014 remains the only season he's had the luxury of playing in the playoffs, he must be growing impatient for the wins to come more regularly.

To this end, the Angels have much work to do on the hot stove.

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 24: Joe Madden speaks to the media as he was introduced today as the new manager of the Los Angeles Angels during a press conference at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on October 24, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

L.A. at least started its offseason on a strong note when it hired Joe Maddon as its new manager in October.

He first gained notoriety as the Angels' bench coach under Mike Scioscia from 2000 to 2005. He then went on to win three Manager of the Year awards, two league pennants and one World Series championship as a skipper with the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs from 2006 to 2019.

And yet there is the inconvenient reality that Maddon is taking over a 90-loss roster, not to mention stepping into an AL West that's been ruled by the Houston Astros in each of the last three seasons. If the Angels want things to get better, they must get their new skipper the talent he needs.

Specifically, they must patch up a starting rotation that posted an MLB-low 0.8 WAR in 2019. They could also use a catcher and a new right fielder. Upgrades for second base and third base would also be a good idea. Some for the bullpen would help too.

Or, put another way: There isn't a whole lot on the Angels roster to get excited about besides Trout and 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani, who should return to juggling hitting and pitching duties in 2020.

On the plus side, the free-agent market is headlined by aces Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg and star third baseman Anthony Rendon, each of whom should be of interest to the Angels. The same goes for other luminaries such as Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel, Zack Wheeler, Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna.

On still another plus side, team owner Arte Moreno has indicated he's ready to spend some money.

"Payroll will go up next year," Moreno said in October, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. "I'm not going to say how much."

However, there isn't too great of a gap between the Angels' $147.9 million payroll projection for 2020 and their Opening Day peak of $166.6 million, which came in 2018. They may have to spend beyond their comfort zone to fill all their needs in free agency. To that end, Moreno is sure to have limits.

General manager Billy Eppler might make up a few differences by pursuing low-cost stars on the trade market, but he'll have his work cut out for him. There aren't many spare parts on the club's major league roster. And with the exception of uber-outfielder Jo Adell—who's presumably untouchable—there isn't a whole lot in the club's 28th-ranked farm system.

In all likelihood, it will take some combination of lavish spending on Moreno's part and creative maneuvering on Eppler's for the Angels to accumulate enough talent to reestablish themselves as a contender. This is not impossible, but it certainly won't be easy.

Meanwhile, all Trout can do is clear a space for his latest MVP and then wait and see.

                   

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.

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