On Sunday, USA Today reported the Los Angeles Angels are open to trading outfielder Mike Trout this offseason if he expresses a desire to part ways. Trout's feelings on the matter are unknown at this time, though he has stated he intends to meet with the Angels' ownership and front office to discuss the franchise's direction. (Our belief is that the Angels are in for several long and hard years if Shohei Ohtani leaves this winter in free agency.)
Earlier in the summer, executives with other front offices expressed skepticism to CBS Sports about the possibility of a Trout trade this offseason -- in part because of the Angels' unwillingness to deal Ohtani, and in part because of how Trout's injury history and contract complicate matters. Trout, after all, has appeared in less than 60% of the Angels' games dating back to 2020. He'll enter next season owed nearly $250 million more.
We here at CBS Sports are nothing if not the speculative type, and so we decided to rank all 30 Major League Baseball teams based on their perceived odds of entering next season with Trout on the roster. You'll find that exercise below, with teams split into tiers. Do note that this is an art, not a science, and that these things can change in a hurry -- especially if, say, Trout says he wants out and the Angels decide to eat money to facilitate a deal.
Tier 1: Zero chance
These teams lack both the competitive and the financial incentive to trade for Trout. We're not too proud to admit we would purchase a livestream of whichever poor Athletics executive had to explain to owner John Fisher that the team was in pursuit of a player owed nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.
Tier 2: No way, no how
Otherwise known as 60% of the American League Central. You could argue that acquiring a player of Trout's caliber would help close the gap between these clubs and the Twins. We agree, but none of these ownership groups strike as us likely to greenlight that kind of transaction -- not now, and perhaps not ever.
Tier 3: Good, but cheap
Each of these clubs has the competitive incentive to get involved on Trout. Financially? Again, we don't see it happening. What we could envision is a few of the executives who run these teams making a case to their visibly bored owner in which they describe Trout as the ultimate "distressed asset."
Tier 4: Fun to think about
These clubs all aim to be competitive next season. There's just something preventing them from breaking through to the next tier, in our opinion. That could be finances, it could be fit, or it could be prospect currency. If you want to bump any of these clubs into the next tier, we're not going to argue much, we just get the sense that they're not as likely to be in the running.
Tier 5: The real candidates
We've arrived at the final seven. Let's break them down, one by one.
7. New York Yankees
We have a hard time seeing Angels owner Arte Moreno sign off on any deal involving the Yankees. We don't love the fit, either. The Yankees already have one highly paid injury-prone outfielder, in Giancarlo Stanton, and it's probable they'd rather use their resources somewhere else on the roster -- especially if they believe in some of their younger outfielders. Still, you should always treat the Yankees as a possible fit for a superstar, if only to inspire a sense of nostalgia.
6. San Diego Padres
You can never discount the possibility of A.J. Preller making a splash. Keep in mind that Juan Soto is likely to populate trade rumors this winter, and perhaps Preller would try to pull off the ever-rare three-way deal involving two future Hall of Fame players. Hey, crazier things have happened -- like Preller making the Padres a destination for superstar players through trade and free agency.
5. New York Mets
We're not sure yet how the Mets intend to approach this offseason after selling at the deadline amidst a disappointing effort. They certainly have the financial means to absorb Trout's contract, and it's worth noting that Billy Eppler has as much insight into Trout as any other executive in the sport. Will either of those aspects matter? We're not confident enough to rank them higher or lower.
4. Philadelphia Phillies
Here's a fun one. Trout landing on the same roster as Bryce Harper would be all kinds of enticing, and relocating to Philadelphia on a permanent basis would make it easier for him to attend Eagles games. Add in how Dave Dombrowski has always displayed a flair for blockbuster deals, and we're willing to buy in.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
As with the Yankees, we doubt Moreno would want to ship Trout to the Dodgers -- particularly if the Dodgers do indeed end up signing Ohtani this winter. The difference is that the Dodgers can overwhelm the Angels with young talent, to the point where it would be a bad baseball decision to say no. If we had to guess, the Dodgers will keep their powder dry for some other outfielder, like Luis Robert, but we don't feel strongly enough about that possibility to drop them outside of the top three.
2. San Francisco Giants
We've been waiting for Farhan Zaidi and company to make a big splash for years. They've tried. They chased Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton back in the day, and they more recently attempted to add Carlos Correa and Aaron Judge. Trout would give San Francisco some much-needed star power, and based on some of their past transactions, his injury history may not concern them the way it would other front offices. Plus, Moreno may not have the hang-ups with the Giants that he could with some other obvious suitors.
1. Los Angeles Angels
You probably saw this coming based on the introduction, but we won't believe Trout is likely to move until there's more smoke. There are simply too many variables that will complicate a deal, and we have a hard time seeing Moreno committing to trading away his only remaining draw when it's actually on the table. Maybe we'll be proven wrong -- for Trout's sake, here's hoping.