Trout's goals? Make playoffs, convince Ohtani to stay

February 15th, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels superstar Mike Trout, who remains one of the game’s best players, said Wednesday that it has been difficult dealing with injuries and not making the postseason in recent years but that he’s optimistic things will be better in 2023.

Trout, a three-time AL MVP and 10-time All-Star, is coming off a 40-homer season but was limited to 119 games because of a back injury that kept him out of action for roughly a month from mid-July to mid-August. Trout, 31, hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2016, and the Angels are mired in a postseason drought going back to ’14, which is tied for the longest such streak in the Majors with the Tigers.

But Trout believes he’s found a routine to keep himself healthy this season, and he is pleased with what general manager Perry Minasian was able to do in the offseason, adding quality depth to the roster.

“It’s definitely left a sour taste in my mouth, the last few years, not being out there all the time and not winning and getting into the playoffs,” Trout said. “I’m in my 30s now, so it’s time. With the way Perry and the front office constructed this team this offseason, getting a lot better, it’s definitely a sign in the right direction. We’re a good team.”

Trout added that he had a hunch owner Arte Moreno wasn’t going to sell after the Angels were aggressive early in the offseason, especially after signing lefty Tyler Anderson to a three-year deal worth $39 million, infielder Brandon Drury to a two-year contract worth $17 million and potential closer Carlos Estévez to a two-year, $13.5 million deal.

“When the word first came out that he was looking to sell the team, it was kind of a shock to me, but once I saw Perry making moves and trying to make the team better, which he did, I got the sense Arte wasn’t going to sell the team," Trout said. "It’s good to have Arte back, and he was committed to making the team better and he’s definitely done that.”

Trout also acknowledged that it’s an important season with fellow superstar Shohei Ohtani set to become a free agent. Trout and Ohtani have been teammates since 2018, but the Angels haven’t posted a winning season over that span.

Trout believes that returning to the postseason could help sway Ohtani to stay with the Angels, and he’s going to do whatever he can to help convince Ohtani to remain with the club.

“I’m going to do whatever I can to keep Shohei here, for sure,” Trout said. “We’re going to go out there and try to win. I haven’t really talked to Shohei about his future, but it seems like he’s having a good time here. But it’s been six years together and we haven’t been in the playoffs, so if there’s any year we need to get the playoffs, it’s this year.”

Trout was in a similar position in 2019, when he was heading into his last year before free agency and there was plenty of speculation that he’d leave the club. But Trout opted to remain with the Angels, signing a 12-year extension worth $426.5 million just days before Opening Day in ’19.

Trout said it’ll ultimately be up to Ohtani on what he believes is best for his career, but noted he believes Ohtani likes playing with the Angels.

“I think the biggest thing is he has to do what he believes is right for him,” Trout said. “If he believes staying in Anaheim is the right move, he should do that. If he thinks otherwise, I’m going to do whatever I can to help convince him to stay.”

Trout said the key to the Angels’ season is again health, especially his own, but that he thinks that the quality depth that the front office brought in this offseason will help mitigate that. Trout said his back injury is fully behind him and that he was able to have a normal offseason outside of ramping up his hitting earlier than usual to get ready for the World Baseball Classic.

Trout, the captain for Team USA, is scheduled to leave Angels camp on March 6 to participate in the Classic for the first time in his career. He said he might be eased into action early in the tournament but is excited to play.

“I’m ready to go,” Trout said. “We’ll just see how my body feels. For everybody playing in this, you have to be cautious. We’ll see how it goes.”