The Art of Trading Mike Trout

Recently I acquired Mike Trout, the first time I’ve successfully traded for Trout in a standard format dynasty.

Acquiring quite possibly the greatest player ever is fun, especially when he gets to continue being the best player on your team. This is less about what this trade means for me and how I came about it, and more about what should you do if you want for Mike Trout or trade him away.

Acquiring Mike Trout

How do you even begin approaching an owner for Trout? It’s hard, isn’t it? But don’t let his lofty status scare you away. As a Trout owner in a couple of leagues, my favorite offers are those revolving around him because it offers a fascinating insight into the cat-and-mouse game of trade offers.

If you want Trout, the first thing you don’t do is do a massive chump dump headlined by one or two good players. That reeks of laziness and of you attempting to wow someone with quantity rather than quality. If I see this in my inbox:

Trade Away: Mike Trout

Acquire: Paul Goldschmidt, Rougned Odor, Matt Olson, Alex Verdugo, Nick Pratto, Isan Diaz, and Michael Chavis

I’m immediately hitting decline. Instead, look at what your trading partner needs. In my original offer, I sent Juan Soto and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., two players going inside the top 10 of a dynasty start up draft in 2019. The other manager could immediately sub in Soto for Trout and get great production from someone projected to be elite for his age and while 3B was not an immediate need, when you get offered the top prospect in the game, you make accommodations. Even then he declined though.

And really, that’s OK. Always expect your first offer for Trout to get declined. Part of it is probably a mental thing, as a way to say “You could do better” even if you thought it was a fair offer from the beginning. That’s why you might want to save your overpay offer for last and not from the get go.

The ideal package for Trout in a dynasty league is one where you give up a top 10 MLB bat and multiple top 15 prospects, where the amount of prospects depends on how good the bat is. And really, don’t be afraid to unload some of your farm system. I especially love trading from my minor leagues, partially because I trust myself to beat others to the punch when I’m restocking through the season and because no matter how infatuated with Eloy Jimenez or Fernando Tatis Jr, they’ve never seen big league pitching. A “sure thing” doesn’t exist in the minor leagues. “But Vlad!” I’d classify him as “as close as a sure thing as you’re going to get”. It’s semantics, I know. But I’d be more hesitant to trade away a package of Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Trevor Bauer than I would be of Francisco Lindor, Eloy Jimenez and Forrest Whitley.

Trading Away Mike Trout

Did your contention window swing past you and leave you high and dry? Did your go-for-it package at the August deadline leave you just short and your roster is now middle of the pack at best for the next year? Then maybe it’s time to dig out that bar of gold from under your mattress (Trout, y’all, Trout’s the gold) and cash in.

I’ve found it’s extremely rare for a manager to trade away Trout if he’s still in contention. Usually, it’s someone who’s about to enter a rebuild and wants young players in return to be the next core of his competitive. If I find myself in this situation, I’m looking for elite prospects and MLB players in return. I’d look at two types of managers:

1) The win-now teams

This group is more likely to make a pseudo-desperation trade to land Trout because it might put them over the top. They’re also more likely to be amenable to being nickel-and-dimed. “Hey, I know you said this was your last offer, but if you threw in Player X and Y I’d really consider it.” Finally, this group is significantly more likely to include more packages than other managers because its currency that doesn’t serve an immediate need.

The drawback comes with the quality of players returning. While you’re more likely to receive more quantity, remember what I said above about the chump dumps? Win-now teams likely got where they are by trading younger players — both prospects and young major leaguers — leaving them with a roster of of great-but perhaps not elite players. For example, in a 16-team dynasty where I routinely challenge for first place the last couple of years, my best two major leaguers are Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Nola and my best prospect is probably Vidal Brujan. Those three packaged together wouldn’t entice me as a Trout owner if I’m going to tear down.

2) The tankers

Here’s where you’re going to cash in the biggest. If you’re in the first two or three years of a dynasty, chances are a manager or two tanked from the get go, racking up all the elite prospects and are now ready to compete with a super team. If you’re OK feeding that beast, then there’s a good chance they’ll let you pillage some elite prospects off of them in exchange for Trout. The key here is not settling for a variety of 50-100 prospects. Those can be supplemental, but not the centerpiece. I’d aim for multiple top 10 prospects and one young bat.

The drawback with this group is they’re really intent on building a dynamite core of major leaguers with which to compete and they’re going to be hesitant to trade any 25-and-under bats of significance. Heck, they might even be wary of trading Tatis Jr or Eloy because of their proximity. I’d probably use your silver tongue and start mentioning that this is the trade that’ll put them over the top and it’s what they’ve been building towards. Just remember that as much as it hurts them to part with several pieces, that’s what you need to demand because you’re not getting another trade chip like this again for a very long time.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for injured players as throw ins for your return. From Corey Seager to Taijuan Walker to Michael Kopech, these guys are all discounted and shouldn’t be major obstacles in a trade, but the dividends might be big.

Trading for Trout is fun, especially when you can successfully land him. Trading him away sucks, but it also feels weirdly cathartic, making you optimistic about the future ahead. Obviously this post doesn’t cover the niche leagues that include auction values or contracts. It’s much easier to complete trades in those leagues, let alone for Trout who’s on extremely bloated contracts.

Otherwise, I hope you found something useful here. Feel free to share your success or horror stories from Trout trades in the comment below!