Is There a Fair Trade for Mike Trout in Fantasy Baseball?
In 2018, Trout has been leaps and bounds better than any other player in baseball, and that's saying something when you consider he's already been the best player in baseball since coming into the league in 2012. And in fantasy, he's easily been the most valuable player. He's arguably the most consistently great fantasy sports athlete of the past decade when you consider he's drafted first overall every season and -- unlike in some other sports -- he always ends up being among the top producers at the season's end.
Generally speaking, if you have Mike Trout, you're not looking to trade him in season-long fantasy. However, if you happen to have a weak roster, but you have Trout on your team, what kind of trade would you need to make in order for to get premium value for him? Is there a trade that would make sense?
Assessing Trout's Value
Right now, the only position player in baseball who comes anywhere close to Trout's production is Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, who is having a monster season of his own. Here is how Trout compares to Betts, and a couple other top fantasy players, according to our nERD metric.
When you break down the numbers, Betts bests Trout in certain categories like batting average, slugging percentage, wOBA and wRC+, but Trout has him bested in on-base percentage, homers, runs, RBI, WAR and nERD. Both players have been stealing some bags this year (13 each), so if there's any player who should lead a package in exchange for Trout, Betts would certainly be one of the players you'd ask for in any potential Trout deal.
Mike Trout has 5.6 WAR (@FanGraphs version)
10 teams do not have 5.6 WAR https://t.co/Tvl5uNZ82G
Mike Trout, by himself, is better than a third of lineups pic.twitter.com/yUKnylPEPR
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) June 13, 2018
Trout's career high in dingers is 41 (2015) and he's already just 10 dingers away from matching last year's total (33). His isolated power (ISO) has jumped from .323 last year to .371 this season, and his wOBA and wRC+ figures are also career highs.
Mike Trout hit two homers last night. With more than 40% of the 2018 season in the books, he's on pace to finish the season with:
94 extra-base hits
He has a .435 on-base percentage.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 12, 2018
Even though in some categories Betts has better numbers than Trout, it is Trout's consistency that helps make him the most valuable player in fantasy baseball.
Trout's worst fWAR since he became an everyday player in 2012 is last year's 6.9. That is still an awesome number, but it's even more incredible that he did it in just 114 games after missing two months with a thumb injury. He's never had a wOBA below .402, never had a wRC+ below 167, and this season, he is having the best power season he's ever had.
Last year, Betts wasn't nearly as dynamic as he has been this year. In 712 PAs he hit .264/.344/.459 with 24 dingers, 101 runs, 102 RBI, a wOBA of .339 and a wRC+ of 108. That's still a very good season, but the improvement he's made into 2018 has been nothing short of awesome. However, part of the calculus here is reliability, and there is simply no one in fantasy who is as reliable as Trout when he's healthy.
The only way you're trading Mike Trout is if you are critically deficient in some other area or you play in a keeper or contract league where you are no longer going to be able to protect him next season.
Any trade for Trout has to involve multiple players, and in this case, you are going to want to lock in a top-notch starter, another top-15 bat and at least one other core player. If you're in a dynasty league, you're going to want multiple long-term studs out of this deal. You're also going to need to find an owner with a roster that has enough stars in it that they can afford to do a 3-for-1 or 4-for-2 deal.
First, you're going to need one of the top fantasy hitters, a player like Freddie Freeman, J.D. Martinez, Betts or Jose Ramirez. If you get one of those four players, your secondary hitter can be of a lower quality, someone young with potential like Rhys Hoskins or Matt Olson. Or, you can look to pair up the likes of Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa with Jose Abreu or George Springer, getting one top-15 player and another in the top-30. If you're in a dynasty league, perhaps someone like Andrew Benintendi, Gleyber Torres, Ozzie Albies, or Juan Soto would be a better fit.
Finally, you're going to want a very good starting pitcher, too. You probably can't also get an opponents' very best starter unless you're willing to throw a lesser pitcher into the mix to help balance the deal. Going after Max Scherzer might be aiming a bit too high, but Aaron Nola, James Paxtonor Noah Syndergaard -- those second-tier studs -- should be the ask, although you might have to offer back someone like Sean Newcomb, Michael Wacha, Alex Wood or Vince Velasquez.
If I'm trading Trout, here's what I'm looking to get back (non-dynasty): Trout for Jose Ramirez, Hoskins and someone like Mike Foltynewicz, who is solid but underappreciated. In a dynasty league, I'm trying to find a way to get multiple assets between Benentendi, Torres, Albies, Ronald Acuna, Luis Severino, or Nola in a deal.
You might get laughed out of the room because it's hard to get fair value back for Trout. And it's hard to convince a fantasy owner to give up three really good players for one guy. But hopefully this serves as a jumping-off point for getting a conversation started in the unlikely event you actually want to trade Mike Trout in the first place.
Remember, you don't have to trade Mike Trout. He's yours. So if you have him, squeeze him for every ounce of value he has, and don't give him up for anything less than what you want.