Note to Phillies fans: Mike Trout heard your clamoring for him to come home loud and clear.
"I didn’t go a day this winter without someone asking, ‘When you coming to Philly.’ I can’t predict the future," Trout said Monday, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Trout, 27, grew up a Phillies fan and has season tickets for the Philadelphia Eagles. The best player in baseball can become a free agent after the 2020 season, at which point the Phillies could break the bank to bring Trout home.
Trout is making $33.3 million each of the next two seasons under his current contract with the Angels. Odds are he will well exceed that amount on his next deal, though the continued free agency of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper have created a curious ripple effect. Baseball owners have clearly decided to stop paying for past performance on new contracts, and Trout could feel the same pinch as Machado and Harper.
“Everybody sees it," Trout told reporters of the cool free-agent market, “it’s obviously not good for baseball. You got two of the top guys that are not signed yet. Teams say they want to rebuild, why not start with the top guys. There’s obviously Manny, Bryce. Look at the pitchers out there. It’s pretty incredible.
“It’s disappointing for the players. It’s good they’re standing up for themselves, like Manny and Bryce. ... It’s not good for baseball with these guys not signing. Hopefully they sign in a few weeks."
Of course, neither Machado nor Harper is on pace to become the best player in the modern history of baseball like Trout. The two-time MVP currently sits with 64.3 wins above replacement seven years into his MLB career, per Baseball-Reference. If he posts an 8.1 WAR in 2019—a number below his full-season average—he will have the same WAR as Derek Jeter put up in 20 seasons.
Trout has shown no signs of slowing down, either, with the slugger posting a 10.2 WAR in 2018.
The Phillies are considered contenders for both Harper and Machado, with Harper in particular drawing a ton of buzz. With a relatively clean payroll, it's possible we could see Harper and Trout in the same outfield in 2021.