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Report: Angels to discuss contract extension with Mike Trout

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that, as a way to find out exactly where the organization stands with superstar outfielder Mike Trout, the Angels plan to discuss a contract extension. Rosenthal doesn’t specify, but extension talks will almost certainly take place during the offseason, not during the final three weeks of the regular season.

Trout, 27, is under contract for two more years at $33.25 million annually. Given the recent news about Shohei Ohtani‘s elbow and the age of some of the other players like Albert Pujols, the Angels are at a crossroads of sorts. If Trout doesn’t want to sign an extension, the club could still make a strong attempt to compete for the next two seasons and hope he changes his mind about staying in Anaheim. Or the Angels could trade Trout to replenish the minor league system.

Trout is in the midst of what is arguably the greatest offensive season of his career. Entering Sunday’s action, he’s batting .314/.465/.623 with 33 home runs, 68 RBI, 92 runs scored, and 22 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. Trout has very clearly been the best player in baseball since he started playing regularly in 2012. It is quite rare that a team would broach the idea of trading the best player in the game, but the Angels could potentially experience a third consecutive sub-.500 season. If their outlook doesn’t improve significantly in a division that currently includes the defending World Series champion Astros, the upstart Athletics, and the talented Mariners, it may make sense for the Angels to look towards the future and explore trading Trout if he doesn’t want to sign an extension.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.