Phillies

A big Philly sports fan, Mike Trout talks possibility of coming home to play for Phillies

A big Philly sports fan, Mike Trout talks possibility of coming home to play for Phillies

Mike Trout can't become a free agent until the 2021 season, but the Delaware Valley is already itching for him to come home and play for the Phillies.

Trout, a Millville, New Jersey, native and passionate Philly sports fan, is probably asked often about the possibility.

So, how does he answer it?

"Obviously I have a couple more years on my contract," Trout said Wednesday in a pregame interview with Phillies broadcaster Gregg Murphy. "Growing up as a kid, you always want to play for your team, but I love it in Anaheim. I can't say enough about this organization, I was brought up here and we'll see what happens."

Trout's Angels are currently taking on the Phillies in a three-game series this week. While the two-time AL MVP is focused on winning ballgames for his team, he's always keeping tabs on the Eagles, his favorite football team across the country. The 25-year-old superstar is an Eagles season-ticket holder and has gotten to know some of the players, especially quarterback Carson Wentz.

"I got to meet him last offseason, spent some time with him, went over his house a couple of times, went hunting and fishing with him," Trout said. "He's a great person, good friend. We kept in touch all the time throughout the season. Obviously he's going through camp right now.

"I talked to him yesterday, I had a cleat come out with some deer-hunting stuff on it. I sent it to him and we had a laugh about it. But like I said, I'm very passionate about the Eagles, and meeting a guy like Carson, him coming up as a rookie, seeing what he did last year — he's a great dude."

Last season, Trout was frequently seen donning midnight green at Eagles games once his 2016 campaign ended in early October. At one game, Wentz handed Trout a ball after an Eagles touchdown.

"Going to the games, seeing the guys and just cheering them on," Trout said. "I know how passionate the fans are in Philly and I want to be right here with them.

"When I go there and fans recognize me, I think it's pretty cool. Now that I know some of the guys on the team, I think it's a little bit different. You're cheering for guys that you know and you know the people they are, how good of a person they are. Just being able to go to games with my family, it means a lot to me."

If Trout's season runs long and the Angels make the playoffs — they entered Wednesday 3½ games out of the AL's second wild-card spot — he shouldn't have any problem finding takers for his seats.

"My family knows that I have season tickets and they know that I won't be able to go, so they're always hitting me up for the tickets," Trout said with a smile.

And it's not just the Eagles for Trout. He is a well-publicized Processer and even joined the LeBron James-to-Sixers push not long ago. Out in California, people know his allegiances back home.

"You can ask any of the guys in the clubhouse," Trout said, "Sixers and Eagles, it's what I talk about all the time."

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Even though the Grapefruit League schedule starts on Friday and opening day is less than six weeks away, the Phillies are still hungry to improve their pitching.

In an interview with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday, Phillies owner John Middleton said the team was “very” active in pursuing potential upgrades. Middleton went on to say that he would “love” to do something on that front.

Middleton made the comments as a number of attractive free-agent pitchers, including Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, remain unsigned.

“We’re having talks every single day with different people,” Middleton said. 

Middleton gets updates on those talks regularly from general manager Matt Klentak.

“Matt kind of now knows me, when we walk in the office and see each other for the first time he basically says [since] the last time I talked to you, John, at 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon nothing happened or this has happened,” Middleton said with a laugh. “Then I’ll see him at lunch time and still nothing has happened or this has happened. We have a lot of conversations about that.”

Middleton is eager to win, but he remains committed to seeing the rebuild through. Klentak has often said he won’t make a shortsighted move that would jeopardize the future. He has said his goal is to play in October for a decade, not just one year. That’s Middleton’s goal, too.

If the Phillies were to make an upgrade on the pitching side in the coming days or weeks, it would have to be on their terms. They have been in continuous contact with Arrieta’s representatives all winter, but won’t go to five or more years to sign the right-hander who turns 32 in March. If Arrieta were willing to sign a deal in the two- to four-year range, the Phillies would definitely have interest (more on all that here).

Stay tuned on that one. Camps are open. Free agents Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez have signed in recent days. Like Arrieta, they are represented by Scott Boras. The pitching logjam looks ready to break and could have an impact in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are methodically striving to become playoff relevant again.

“We wouldn’t be out talking to people the way we are if we didn’t think that we could get that little extra push,” Middleton said. “I think we all feel this way. [It] just has to be done in an intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable way.

“But, yeah, I’d love to do something."

Phillies willing to sign Jake Arrieta if ...

Phillies willing to sign Jake Arrieta if ...

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Longstanding rumors linking the Phillies to free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta continue to percolate. On Tuesday morning, baseball reporter Jon Heyman tweeted that the Phillies and Arrieta were engaged in "dialogue."

Here’s what we know: At the winter meetings in December, Phillies officials met with Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, to go over a number of Boras’ clients. At the time, Arrieta was looking for a deal in the neighborhood of seven years and $180 million to $200 million. Those parameters were not a fit for the Phillies, who have placed a premium on short-term contracts while they move their rebuild forward.

The Phillies have remained engaged with the Arrieta camp throughout the winter and they have made it clear that if the pitcher’s price tag comes down, they would have interest in a union. It is believed the Phillies would be willing to sign Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, to a two- or three-year contract, at a significant salary and possibly with some creative structure such as an out after one year.

Earlier this winter, the Phillies had reservations about meeting free agent Carlos Santana’s original contract demands of upwards of five years. When Santana’s demands were lowered to three years, the Phillies pounced and signed him for $60 million. Such a lowering of demands could make Arrieta a Phillie. Of course, there are other teams interested. Arrieta has long been linked to the Cardinals and Nationals.

Arrieta would come with some risk. All pitchers of his age and odometer reading do. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2015 while going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. He went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA the following season and slipped to 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 2017. That trend downward has coincided with a slight drop in velocity and that has given teams pause at signing Arrieta to a long-term deal. It would seem that even the Cubs had reservations about Arrieta as they let him walk and signed free agent Yu Darvish.

In the last few days, a couple of big-name Boras clients have signed. Eric Hosmer went to the Padres and J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox. Arrieta might be next. If he would come at the Phillies’ price, he might end up being a Phillie.

Signing Arrieta would cost the Phillies a second- or third-round draft pick in June.