Mike Trout Is Morphing Into an Albatross

The three-time MVP is sidelined indefinitely with a torn meniscus in his left knee

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.
Mike Trout just cannot stay on the field for the Los Angeles Angels.
Dylan Buell/Getty

A record-breaking contract that runs through the 2030 season and seemed like a great deal when it was signed in 2019 is starting to look like an albatross that will continue to weigh down the payroll of the Los Angeles Angels due to Mike Trout’s inability to stay on the baseball field.

Trout, who signed a 12-year extension with the Angels in ’19 that guarantees him $426,500,000 and pays him an average annual salary of $35,541,667, is sidelined indefinitely after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, general manager Perry Minasian announced on Tuesday. Though the Angels believe Trout will be able to return this season, it’s fair to wonder whether that belief will come to fruition as this is the fourth consecutive season a major injury has sidelined the three-time AL MVP.

Hitting a career-low .220 for the first time since breaking into the majors at the age of 19 in 2011, 32-year-old Trout has 10 homers, 14 RBIs and six stolen bases this year but is starting to show the wear and tear from the nagging injuries that have caused him to miss an average of more than 40 games per year during his 13 full seasons in the majors. With career salary earnings thus far of approximately $267 million despite missing about a quarter of his major-league games, Trout has collected around $66.75 million from the Angels not to play baseball. Given that his age and injury frequency are increasing, that number is probably only going up and will continue to drag down the value of LA’s payroll, which no longer includes Shohei Ohtani.

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After topping 20 home runs, 50 RBI and .300 at the plate just once in the past five seasons, Trout clearly appears to be on the decline. Tied to him until the start of free agency before the ’31 season, the Angels have six years to find out.

“It’s tough,” Trout said before the Angels’ 7-5 loss to the Phillies on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium. “It’s just frustrating. But we’ll get through it. It’s all guesses, trying to pinpoint where this came from. You play the game hard and [stuff] happens. It hurts right now but I have to look at the positives. I’ll be back in a few months.”

Considering the future Hall-of-Famer has played in 266 games since the start of the 2021 season and missed 250 over that same stretch entering LA’s meeting with Philadelphia on Wednesday, don’t expect him to be back for long.

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