With Bryce Harper signing with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, eyes are turning toward the next baseball superstar who’s likely to reach the free agent market, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s outfielder Mike Trout.
Trout can test the free agent market following the 2020 season unless he agrees to a contract extension with the Angels before that. And it doesn’t sound like any such extension is in the works.
“Mike Trout said he does not want to negotiate an extension during spring training or the regular season over the next two seasons before his contract expires,” reporter Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic tweeted Friday. That timetable would leave a window of next offseason for Trout to agree to return to the Angels and forgo free agency.
Trout, an outfielder who has always played for the Angels, is seen as one of the few young active players, along with Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and possibly the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, with a chance to eventually get a bigger contract than Harper’s.
If Trout becomes a free agent, he’s expected to set off a bidding war similar to the one for Harper – and the Phillies will probably be a part of it. According to Sports Illustrated’s report late Thursday about the Harper negotiations, the Phillies approached the offseason knowing they had enough money to sign both Harper and Manny Machado, “but wanted just one of them in order to keep money in reserve for Trout.”
For that reason, MLB Network radio reporter and former baseball general manager Jim Bowden believes that Trout, who is from Southern New Jersey and is a frequent presence at Philadelphia Eagles home games, will be a Phillie in 2021.
“They’re going to sign Trout by the way, in two years,” Bowden said, per WIP. “Harper and Trout have been texting back and forth throughout this process. Harper reached out to Trout to ask him about the city of Philadelphia. Mike Trout and Harper are gonna be on this team in two years.”
— PhillyVoice (@thephillyvoice) March 1, 2019
Reporter J.J. Hoornstra said on Twitter Friday that Trout texted Harper in order to congratulate him on the new deal.
However, it’s likely that other teams will enter the bidding for Trout in two years, including teams that avoided the Harper bidding such as the Yankees and Red Sox. The Angels can’t be counted out in attempting to keep Trout, either.