By Sweeny Murti
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When you wish a upon a star … don’t expect it to come true. That’s what I’m telling myself now and telling you before the crazy tweets come flying at me.
Late in September as the Yankees hurtled toward elimination and thoughts shifted towards 2017, I had a scout tell me there was a trade the Yankees had to make and that he could see it happening.
The target? Mike Trout.
Yes, that Mike Trout. The best player in baseball over the last five years, still only 25 years old.
The reasons this scout told me to look out for this deal? There are plenty.
The basis of it comes from the big restock the Yankees pulled off with the Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller deals last July, on top of what had already become one of the more talent-rich systems in the game. The Yankees now had “an army of prospects,” according to this scout.
“You don’t accumulate all those prospects with the intent of keeping them all,” the scout told me. “They have value and it makes complete sense to spin off four of five of them for Trout.”
Trading prospects for the biggest star in the game?
“It’s very much a Yankees kind of move and makes too much sense for them,” he told me.
The Yankees could then trade Brett Gardner, move Jacoby Ellsbury to left and Trout, who doesn’t turn 26 until next August, could man center field and become the leader of the Baby Bombers.
The scout went on to state that the Angels have maybe the worst farm system in baseball and this was a way to inject talent into their system immediately.
The kicker to this thought was the obvious connection between Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and his former assistant, Billy Eppler, now the Angels’ GM. A move like this could jumpstart a rebuilding effort as Eppler enters his second year with the Angels, who have seen their win total drop from 98 to 85 to 74 over the last three seasons.
“All of that is true,” a GM of another major league team told me. “But that has zero percent chance of happening.”
Talk about a killjoy.
“Nobody wants to trade that guy,” the GM told me. “Billy can’t be the guy who traded Mike Trout. Arte Moreno (the Angels owner) can’t be that guy. It would be like the Bulls trading Michael Jordan in his prime. The only thing that team has going right now is Mike Trout. Without him they’d be a Triple-A team.”
An executive of another team echoed that, saying “He’s not being traded. It’s not even an option. He’s their only guy!”
The reason given here was that there was no urgency to move Trout on the Angels’ part. They are not a small-market team looking to unload the four years and $122 million left on his contract. And as they build themselves back up they will still have Trout in the prime of his career. If the rebuild doesn’t go smoothly, the Angels will still be in a position of strength to trade him two years from now.
I asked the second executive if he thought the Yankees simply had the talent to land Trout, and he agreed they had some big pieces. However, he added that if Trout was ever truly on the market, there are other teams that could and would give the Angels a better package.
Cashman has been careful not to label anyone untouchable in this current crop of prospects, but it’s clear there are names I personally like to refer to as conversation stoppers more than untouchable. My guess is Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres fall into that category.
But if the haul was Mike Trout, my guess is the Yankees wouldn’t be in a position to hold back anyone.
It was an interesting proposition from the scout who saw me in September. However as I tried to flesh out the idea it went from “makes too much sense” to “zero percent chance of happening.”
And when I hear it put that way I flash back to February 2004. A month earlier, when the Yankees found out that Aaron Boone suffered a knee injury that would force him to miss the entire 2004 season, they went searching for a third baseman. A good friend told me the Yankees should trade for Alex Rodriguez (the reigning MVP and the best shortstop in baseball) and move him to third base. I told my friend he was crazy.
When you wish upon a star … hey, ya never know.
Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN