The St. Louis Cardinals are the Perfect Trade Destination for Mike Trout
By Josh Jacobs
What a Cardinals’ trade package for Mike Trout would look like
As stated earlier, Trout has the power to veto any trade, has one of the largest contracts in baseball, a concerning injury history, and is 31 years old. All of this factors negatively toward his trade value.
Yet, Trout still is one of the best players in the game. In 2022, Trout is slashing .272/.366/.597 with 26 HR and 54 RBI in 85 games, which is a down year for him but still makes him a top 5 player in baseball. Trout had a rough stretch in months of June and July, but otherwise has played like his prime self. Because of this, he will still command value in any deal.
The Cardinals could approach it from multiple angles. The more money the Angels eat, the more value the club will have to part with. If the Angels are willing to eat 30% of Trout’s contract like the Rockies did with Arenado, they could command a prospect package better than Colorado, perhaps with a mixture of guys like Juan Yepez, Alec Burleson, or Gordon Graceffo. These three guys in themselves may get the deal done, or a mixture of some other prospects.
There are other scenarios at play as well. If the Angels are set on paying as minimal of Trout’s contract as possible, then they could try to bring back some low ceiling prospects and call it a day, or maybe the eat even more of Trout’s contract and have their eyes set on one of Dylan Carlson, Nolan Gorman, or Maysn Winn as the centerpiece.
Let’s just predict here that Los Angeles eats up about 25%-30% of Trout’s contract and acquires Juan Yepez, Gordon Graceffo, Joshua Baez, and maybe a lower tier prospect or two. That brings Trout’s AAV down to about $25 million a year, tied for 24th in baseball with the likes of Marcus Stroman, Marcus Semien, and Joey Votto.
You could argue they’d need to throw in a Tink Hence, Maysn Winn, or Carlson due to that crazy value, but others’ would have argued that for Arenado as well, but look at the lack of talent Colorado acquired in that deal.
The Angels eating a chunk of Trout’s deal makes this a very realistic target for St. Louis. Having Goldschmidt and Arenado on large contracts makes it difficult to fit in another, but $25 million is a manageable number. Adam Wainwright’s $17,500,000 and Yadier Molina’s $10,000,000 contracts are coming off the books after this season, and Mikolas’ $16,750,000 AAV deal is finished in 2023.
St. Louis also showed in their Soto pursuit that they are in a position to add another large contract to their books. Their willingness to acquire Soto for even just his remaining team control meant the club would have to pay the outfielder $17,100,000 this year with significant pay bumps each of the two seasons after that. Although Trout is locked in long term, the lowered trade value and contract AAV puts St. Louis in prime position.
What would the St. Louis team look like if this deal was pulled off? Would it make sense for their long term plans?