Why Mike Trout deviated from his typical approach in discussing Angels future

Context is always important. The context here is that Mike Trout rarely offers anything closely resembling criticism when he speaks about the Los Angeles Angels, be that his teammates, coaches, the front office or owner Arte Moreno. And the context here is that Trout previously had not made the kind of remarks about the Angels that he did on Monday.

The three-time MVP always speaks publicly in the final days of the season. And he does so again in the first days of spring.

Every year, his message takes on a similar tenor: He likes the direction the team is headed. He wants to win. He’s excited about playing.

“The way (Angels GM) Perry (Minasian) and the front office constructed a team this offseason, getting a lot better, it’s definitely a sign in the right direction,” Trout said last spring. “We’ve got a good team.”

“We’ve got a lot of young guys that came in,” Trout said last September, responding to a question about his confidence in the organization’s decision-makers. “If you look at what happened over the year — when we were playing in April our first baseman was taking college at-bats. To see him up there and do that. I can go through the whole roster.”

But when Trout spoke on Monday, ahead of the first full-team workout of the spring, he deviated from his approach in a way that many Angels fans have been hoping for the past few years.

He said he thinks the team could be doing more.

“I was in contact with both of them (Moreno and team president John Carpino), just pushing, pushing, pushing,” Trout said. “There’s still some (free-agent) guys out there that can make this team a lot better.”

Blake Snell, J.D. Martinez and Cody Bellinger are just some of the major free agents still on the market who could theoretically help the Angels’ roster.

“I’m going to keep pushing as long as I can,” he added. “Until the season starts or until those guys sign. It’s just in my nature. I’m doing everything I can possible. It’s obviously Arte’s decision. I’m going to put my two cents in there.”

Trout will turn 33 years old this season. He was 23 years old the last time he played in the postseason. He watched his superstar teammate, Shohei Ohtani, sign with the Dodgers. And then an offseason where the Angels only spent along the margins and in the bullpen — the most expensive contract was three years and $33 million given to reliever Robert Stephenson. And that’s all after winning just 73 games each of the past two seasons.

For Trout, it’s clear this moment in time represents an inflection point in his Anaheim tenure. That’s probably why he couched his comments about wanting to remain with the Angels by adding that he could be open to getting traded in the future.

“I think the easy way out is to ask for a trade,” Trout said before later adding, “Maybe down the road, if some things change.”

 

He didn’t state specifically what would have to change for him to want out. But, presumably, it’s tied to what he talked about as the sun rose on Monday morning. Tied to his belief that the franchise is making legitimate attempts to become a contender.

Trout’s loyalty to the Angels has been unquestionable. He signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract to play his entire career with one organization. But Trout is likely seeing what we’re all seeing: The pathway for his team to be a contender continues to narrow. The likelihood of finally making the postseason is lesser on paper than it’s ever since his first call-up 13 years ago.

 

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