ANAHEIM -- As the losses have piled up and the injuries have mounted, the radical idea of trading Mike Trout has quickly gained momentum outside of Angel Stadium.
ESPN and FanGraphs floated the idea recently, shortly after it was revealed that the Angels' best starting pitcher, Garrett Richards, may be lost for the next 12 to 18 months with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. And in the days that followed, the thought of trading Trout has become a major talking point throughout the country, on television, in print and through social media.
"I've seen it," Trout said on Wednesday. "I just laugh about it. I love where I'm at. I love Anaheim, the stadium, the organization, and obviously the teammates. Teams go through injuries. That's the way it is."
Trout, 24, is signed through 2020, his age-28 season, and holds a full no-trade clause on a contract extension that pays him $15.25 million this year, $19.25 million next year, and $33.25 million each of the following three years.
The Angels have the consensus weakest farm system in the game and a top-heavy payroll that is close to maxing out. They also have to be cautious with three crucial young pitchers in Richards (set to undergo Tommy John surgery), Andrew Heaney (hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery) and Tyler Skaggs (coming off Tommy John surgery).
Some believe trading Trout, and receiving a historically lucrative package of up-and-coming prospects and controllable Major Leaguers, would be the best and quickest way for the Angels to steer themselves in the right direction. Others consider it blasphemous to even consider the idea of trading a once-in-a-generation player that young and locked up for that long.
Asked about it in Spring Training, Angels owner Arte Moreno said: "100 percent we are not trading Mike Trout. We're not trading Mike Trout. It's not even in the thought process."
Asked about it on Friday, Angels general manager Billy Eppler said: "No chance. … You do not move superstar players."
The Angels currently have seven players out of action because of injury, including four starting pitchers, a shortstop in Andrelton Simmons, a closer in Huston Street and a part-time left fielder in Craig Gentry. They don't have the farm system to pull off a major trade, their budget is too close to the luxury-tax threshold to take on much salary, and the upcoming free-agent class seems uninspiring.
But Trout expressed confidence that the Angels would remain competitive over the life of his contract.
"We're going to keep playing to try to win," he said. "It doesn't matter what other people say. Our mentality in this clubhouse is to win ballgames with the group of guys that we have. Obviously we don't have the full team that we wanted down in spring, but that's the way it goes."