For Angels fans just the thought of Mike Trout reaching free agency sends them into a panic — but the time for that isn’t now.
Mike Trout is the best player in baseball today, full stop. For that reason alone, it’s easy to see why Los Angeles Angels fans are so attached to a guy that is so undervalued by the casual fan. Trout is the best player in the game that no one watches outside a) Los Angeles or b) the circle of baseball diehards.
Bryce Harper is on a much brighter stage, which is why rumors about his future in free agency are hot pokers that Nationals fans are forced to touch every time he’s mentioned. The same thing is going on in Los Angeles and the reality that the franchise could lose its best player is just as real.
Now is not the time for panic, however.
Even though the clock is ticking there doesn’t seem to be too much urgency from the Angels or Trout himself. They know that there is time to for both sides to decide what to do.
Three years ago the Angels and Trout agreed to a deal that would keep him in Los Angeles through the 2020 season (which a quick check of the calendar confirms is two years away). There is still time left to enjoy him and more importantly time for the Angels to build a contender around him.
Fans and the team need to be focused on that: Finding ways to win.
Two and a half years is an eternity in baseball; there’s time to figure out how to dismantle the bomb before it goes off. A lot can happen in that time and who knows what both sides will be thinking by then.
The focus should be on the current season, and then the next. Fetishizing the idea that Trout will leave for the Yankees in two years is going to all but ensure that very thing happens. Instead, Los Angeles can take the contending team it has now and craft something attractive enough to convince Trout that he should win his World Series rings out West.
Panicking about the future before it arrives is no way to keep Trout — or anyone in Los Angeles — happy in the present.