“He has great parents. He has incredible DNA. Speaking to him, he has not changed one bit from the minute he walked into the big leagues,” Rodriguez, the former slugger and current ESPN broadcaster, said of Trout on a recent conference call.
“In one of our pregame interviews where he was talking about his hitting, he had as many questions off camera as I had for him on camera. So he still has an incredible amount of humility, of hunger, and I just think that while he’s off to a historic start, we still have not seen his best baseball yet.”
The second contract came before Rodriguez’s fifth season in New York. That Trout, a two-time American League most valuable player, opted to stay with the club he has spent his entire 7½-year career with should ease the kind of pressure some free agents feel after big-money moves.
“I had two big changes, and they were completely different, like night and day,” Rodriguez said. “The move from Seattle to Texas was the biggest and most profound. When I came back to New York is a better comparison to Trout, because it was business as usual.
“I did not feel any more pressure than I already faced by playing in New York. But in that first move from Seattle to Texas, it was a huge added pressure for sure, going from a smaller market to a bigger market in Dallas.”
Angels general manager Billy Eppler was the Yankees assistant GM when Rodriguez signed that second contract. His comfort level and close relationship with Trout — along with a conversation he had with former Yankees GM Gene “Stick” Michael, who died in 2017 — eased any concerns about signing Trout to the largest contract in North American sports history.
“Stick used to tell me in my early days, he’d ask the question, ‘Can you trust the player with the contract?’ ” Eppler said. “There wasn’t somebody that I’ve come across that checked the boxes like Mike does.
“You trust his intentions. You trust how he’s going to take care of himself, how he’s going to approach the game, how he’s going to be inside the clubhouse. For us, it was a pretty easy visualization and pretty easy to get in the mind-set that Mike needs to stay here.”