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January 05, 2017

Fishing for a Phillies hunting buddy for (non-free agent) Mike Trout

The Phillies may or may not add a significant or non-significant bat to their spring training roster before reporting to camp in six weeks. They may or may not go on a wild spending spree in two winters when all of baseball will descend on Las Vegas for the Winter Meetings during an offseason when a who’s who of the game’s greats are free agents.

Disclaimer: This story was written for fun/out of sheer boredom. It’s for entertainment purposes only. Proceed with caution. But remember, it’s OK for sports to be fun and not always to be taken so seriously. Deal? Deal.

They may or may not welcome hometown hero* Mike Trout into Citizens Bank Park as a member of the Phillies in 2021, the season that follows his first winter as a free agent. Everything and nothing is on the table.

*[Trout is from Millville, N.J., which isn’t exactly a Philadelphia suburb like most of South Jersey … but, at 42 miles from Citizens Bank Park, it is close enough to call the Philly teams his hometown teams. Trout celebrated the Phillies 2008 World Championship outside CBP after Game 5 and is a popular Eagles season ticket holder.]

In fact, Trout can leave the cozy environs of Southern California whenever he chooses, apparently. According to this fascinating find from Fangraph’s Nathaniel Grow, Trout can become a free agent this winter thanks to an obscure provision under California labor law.

Now. It’s highly unlikely (even higher than highly unlikely) that Trout or any other professional athlete with seven years of employment at the same employer within the state (which also includes Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey) would test out this provision. The legal fees and big picture ramifications would be enormous; and Trout, for one, surely doesn’t come off as a guy that would try exploiting such a rule (until he hires Scott Boras?).

So let’s put all of that to rest. If you’re really interested in it, here, again, is the Fangraphs story.

Even though Trout isn’t likely to leave the Los Angeles Angels for another four years, the Philadelphia sports community has already begun selling the Millville kid on coming home.

In case you missed it (there’s no way you missed it) Trout and Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz have become fast friends. They went on a hunting excursion together over the holidays. Wentz gave a game ball to Trout after throwing a touchdown pass on Sunday. From a pro sports pals perspective, they’re going steady.

Well, isn’t it time for some of the Phillies (not management – that’s tampering!) to put some similar moves on baseball’s best player and South Jersey’s most popular winter resident? This isn’t the time to play hard to get, Maikel Franco!

Without further near-incoherent rambling, we present the Phillies Most Likely to Court Mike Trout on a Hunting Trip.

Freddy Galvis

With Carlos Ruiz gone, Freddy Galvis just might be the most popular player in the Phillies clubhouse. The players and coaching staff love him. And the man has moves. OK, not those kinds of moves. And wait. Did you say a hunting trip? Have you seen Galvis’s boyish smile? 

There’s no way Galvis (even at age 27 – wasn’t he just 19??) makes it through ‘Bambi’ all the way through let alone has the heart to look at a defenseless animal through the scope of a gun. (It’s cool, Freddy, I’m right there with you. I could be watching an apocalypse movie and the only thing I don’t want to see is our hero’s trusted pet killed. Bambi? No chance).

Howie Kendrick

Yo, now we’re talking. These guys are already baseball friends! Kendrick, acquired by the Phillies two months ago, was Trout’s teammate with the Angels for four seasons. Surely they’d like to catch up on life. But… Kendrick doesn’t know much about the Phillies yet, surely. He just got here. And he’s unlikely to be here long. And it would appear he’s more into adding expensive items to his jewelry armoire than dead carcasses to his basement/study. But I’ve never met him so this is just a guess.

Bryan Holaday

Who? Yes, this is a player who will be in camp with the Phillies and who could very well open the season as the team’s backup catcher. Holaday is a Dallas native who won the Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, the award given annually to the top catcher in collegiate baseball, in 2010. So, why is he a candidate to take Mike Trout hunting/on a Phillies recruiting trip?

Because of this.

I know nothing about guns. But this looks like a serious gun.

Dylan Cozens

Close your eyes and you could actually see these guys as friends, right? Taking batting practice together, seeing who could launch baseballs farther into the Citizens Bank Park seats. OK, wake up. I honestly have no idea if Cozens has ever gone hunting. But I’ve met him in person several times and can say he’s an intimidating-looking bloke, the kind that’ll wear sunglasses indoors. That’s Terminator stuff. Those deer don’t stand a chance, Mike.

Adam Morgan

Kind of a sneaky darkhorse here, since more often than not hitters hang with fellow hitters and pitchers with pitchers. But one of Trout’s best buds in Anaheim is Angels right-hander Garrett Richards. Morgan likes to hunt. He likes football. He’s personable. I feel like we’re onto something here, but I’m also not sold all the way, either.

Cameron Rupp

Ok, now we’re talking. Rupp is one of the longest-tenured position players on the Phillies roster. He became a fan favorite for his hard-nosed play, a style Trout himself brings to the ballpark. Rupp can put on the hard sell for Philadelphia baseball. And, look at this (or don’t. Yeah, maybe don’t). 

This is a man clearly after Trout’s heart.

Oh, wait. No. No, this is not good.

Cowboys and Eagles fans don’t mix. So close, Cam!

Ben Lively

No words are needed. We have a winner (and also somebody clearly into Mike).

Congrats, Ben. Enjoy the burgers at Jim’s Lunch in Millville.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21