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Is Mike Trout Worth a Lifetime Deal?

No matter how far the Angels lag behind in the AL West, it’s must-see baseball when Mike Trout steps in. Its because of that eye-popping, “hold-your-pee” type ability that the Angels are considering a lifetime contract that would make #27 an Angel for life. A lifetime contract would be the first in MLB history, likely shattering Giancarlo Stanton’s record setting 13-year, $325 million dollar contract in 2014.  But is he worth it?

Some #FACTS for you… On the field, Trout is already the best player in the galaxy yet manages to improve every year.  He’s a family man and an all-around great person who is universally loved throughout the game.  He is admired by his peers, yet he stays humble and genuine.  I once saw Trout walk over to an Oakland Coliseum security guard, call him by name, and proceed to joke with him like they’d known each other for 20 years.  Warm and fuzzies aside, Trout puts asses in the seats.  Despite subpar team results, the Angels continue to be one of the top drawing teams in baseball, averaging 37,000 fans per game, right up there with the Cubs, Yankees and Giants of the baseball world.

Albert Pujols’ 10-year, $254 million dollar contract set a record back in 2012 with added perks that included 4 season tickets and a guaranteed hotel suite on every road trip. Trout’s lifetime deal will probably carry similar perks.  Why?  Angels owner Arte Moreno knows that keeping Mike Trout in an Angels uniform for the rest of his life, considering Trout’s exceptional character, generational greatness, and historical significance, will have lasting impacts on the Angels’ bottom line.

In the last few months, a parade of trolls disguised as journalists have come out asking “why isn’t Mike Trout more famous?”  I know why.  Because he’s more human.  Trout subscribes to the Derek Jeter School of Staying Out of the News, respecting his peers (read: not talking sh*t), engaging personally with his fans every single game, keeping his circle tight, and picking his spots.  In 2018, when digital fame is of greater value than being a role model, Jeter, who wouldn’t touch social media with a 10-foot pole, would likely have been criticized in the same way.  Jeter did not seek fame and, on his terms, has earned the respect and admiration of millions, including Trout himself.  Jeter also sold more jerseys than anyone in the history of the game with that strategy.  Though the MLB commissioner may have other plans for him, Trout’s market strategy is the slow play.  When you’re the 21st century Willie Mays, the slow play works.

A lifetime deal means that Angels owner Arte Moreno believes in the slow play, too.  Arte knows the Angels play second fiddle to the historic, iconic cross-town (Dodgers).  Trout, however, has no “big brother.”  He’s the baddest dude on the block.  He might be the true GOAT.  The actual Greatest Of All Time.  The Dodgers, despite their extraordinary legacy of great players, have no comeback for that.  Competing with the Dodgers, not to mention the Hollywood lights and LA beaches, Angels brass needs to ensure that baseball’s best player plays in their building and that the inevitable milestone moments, like Pujols’ recent 3000th hit and 600th home run, can be celebrated in Anaheim forever.

In the near-term, Trout’s nightly highlight reel, with the help of fellow generational talent Shohei Ohtani, provide an insurance policy that keeps the Angels relevant in LA, regardless of their cross-town competition or where the Angels are in the standings.

Could Arte look at himself in the mirror if he let one of the greatest who ever lived just walk out the door?

Its not just the attendance boost that makes a lifetime deal a sound investment.  Not only does Trout keep the Angels in baseball fans’ consciousness, he also keeps them in baseball brands’ consciousness.

As long as Trout’s out in center, the centerfield walls will be a money tree for the Angels sponsorship department.  Why?  Look no further than Trout’s most famous play to date, a Skyway Robbery of JJ Hardy in his rookie season.  Southwest.com’s Angels sponsorship will continue to pay dividends as the backdrop to this work of art.

Beyond the ticket sales and sponsorships, Trout’s got merch on lock, too.  He’s been in the top 10 in MLB jersey sales since his rookie year (2012)!  He’s Nike royalty, too, earning the “Bigger-than-God” Nike brand’s only signature baseball shoe since Ken Griffey, Jr.  For a sport that’s struggling to reach kids, having a Nike poster boy rocking a halo is invaluable to the Angels franchise.

Nike, for many young athletes, defines what cool IS, and Mike Trout is cool.  Trout’s legacy of signature shoes and cleats can only be matched by one other baseball player, The (original) Kid, Ken Griffey, Jr.  While Griffey wanted to be “loud,” Trout’s signature shoes have been a little more on the subtle side of the swag spectrum, but no less fresh.  Since he laced up the above showstoppers for his 7th All-Star Game in July, Trout has been wearing the Force Zoom Trout 5 cleat.

In the Nike Sport Research Lab, Trout used a foot-pressure mat to measure what parts of the cleat need flexibility or quick response on the plate of the Trout 4 cleat.  The Trout 5 extended that pressure mapping hexagonal pattern from the plate of the Trout 4 and brought it to the rest of the cleat in the newest Trout 5. You can buy an all-white pair similar to Trout’s colorway now ON SALE here.

The Angels like his durability, too.  After all, its difficult to market a center fielder that isn’t on the field, and Trout has been mostly unbreakable.  The last two seasons, however, he’s missed time due to sliding injuries to his thumb and wrist.  These things can happen when you run like Bo Jackson, so Trout has taken preventative measures.  After the thumb injury, Trout now trades his EvoShield leg and elbow guards with 1B coach Alfredo Griffin for a Benik W-137B sliding sleeve (above, available over phone https://www.benik.com/athletics).   

For any ballplayer, the head is the most important tool you take to the field, and Trout has started wearing a C-Flap on his helmet to protect the noodle from the never-ending barrage of 95 mph fuzz trotting out of MLB bullpens. Although Trout hasn’t been hit in the head (and we hope he never is), his jaw-dropping ability to crush the low ball means that pitchers generally attack him up and in.  So the Markwort C Flap helmet add-on doesn’t just look bad ass, it gives Trout even more confidence at the plate.  Rawlings now offers a similar item/helmet combo for youth batters, too, called the Mach EXT helmet.  With sliding injuries no longer slowing Mike down and a well-protected dome, he should continue to be one of the more durable players in baseball and worth even more to the Angels franchise.

That’s our story.  What do you think about a lifetime deal for Trout?

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