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Angels owner says contract extension for Mike Trout is priority

Angels owner says contract extension for Mike Trout is priority
Angels center fielder Mike Trout rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homer against the Astros in the seventh inning on July 22, 2018, at Angels Stadium. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Negotiating a contract extension with outfielder Mike Trout remains a priority for the Angels, but owner Arte Moreno said that club executives have not discussed it with Trout since the season ended.

“That’s one of those things that’s always on the front of your mind,” Moreno said of securing Trout beyond his current contract, which ends after the 2020 season. However, team representatives have held back in deference to the death in mid-August of Trout’s brother-in-law, Aaron Cox, a former Angels pitching prospect.

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“It’s not like a yes or no or whatever,” Moreno said Monday at a news conference introducing Brad Ausmus as the Angels’ manager. “We all communicate. But personally he just had a rough end to the year, so there’s been a lot of space, so you just want him and his family to go through the grieving process. We all try to support each other.”

Hiring a manager was a first for Moreno, who bought the franchise in 2003 from the Walt Disney Company. Mike Scioscia became the manager in 2000, and his decision to step down after the recently completed season put Moreno in unfamiliar territory. Moreno said he sought advice from friends and fellow owners as the Angels went through their search.

One owner, he said, emphasized character and made a particularly good point. “He told me the really important thing is you need to find a person that’s really good from the ninth inning to the first inning,” Moreno said. “For baseball people it’s always first inning to the ninth inning, but he’s really talking about how are they going to be after the game? How are they going to be with the fans? How are they going to represent the organization when they’re not on the field?

“Mike did such a great job over all these years of communicating with you [media] whether you like it or not, but Mike was accessible and he was really good with the fans. Mike, I saw him with kids all the time. He would go out of his way to greet someone, shake their hand. That was really an important thing, to try and find someone that was going to represent the Angel organization and Angel fans in the way we had gotten accustomed to.”

Moreno cited pitching as a prime target for improvement this winter. “We had a lot of injuries and we’ve got some young people coming and we’ll see where they fit in but we need starting pitching, bullpen help,” he said. “We blew a lot of games in the last two or three innings, so just more depth, more strength in the bullpen.”

As for the offense, he said: ”Probably a left-handed bat, some power, play first base. Just to fill in. We have Matt Thaiss in triple-A and we’re going to see a lot of him in spring. And you look at Taylor Ward and see how he fits in and Zach Cozart, he’ll be back. We have the second baseman [Luis Rengifo] we traded [C.J.] Cron to Tampa for that will really come into play in spring training.

“I’m not going to tell you we’re going to spend a ton of money but we’re going to spend money. It’s really hard to just grow, 100%, all your players.”

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