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Mike Trout was 17-years-old when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008. In fact, Trout was in the parking lot at Citizens Bank Park that night, tailgating with his friends from Millville, NJ.

When Bryce Harper signed his 13-year/$330 million deal with the Phillies in 2019, an uncontrollable buzz emerged. Could Harper entice a reunion between Trout and Philadelphia?

Trout silenced those rumors quickly. Just weeks after Harper finalized his deal with Philadelphia, Trout committed himself to Los Angeles, inking a 12-year/$426.5 million deal with the Angels.

That deal seems like it would carry Trout through the end of his career, but Trout will only be 39-years-old in 2031 at the deal’s end. Even though his contract includes a full no-trade clause, the Phillies are almost certainly the one team he’d waive that for.

In Jim Bowden’s most recent article for The Athletic, he makes 20 predictions for events which will occur in baseball before the end of the 20s. Number 18 on that list is “Mike Trout finishes his career with the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Bowden emphasizes key points that could attract Trout to Philadelphia even before his deal expires. “Often in sports, a superstar wants to return home to finish their career. Trout was born in Vineland, N.J., and attended Millville Senior High. He’s a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan.”

Mike Trout celebrates from the stands during the 2017 NFC Championship game.

Mike Trout celebrates from the stands during the 2017 NFC Championship game.

Bowden continues, “I’m predicting he somehow finds his way to Philadelphia in 2029, and finishes his Hall of Fame career with a Phillies “P” on the front of his jersey.”

A move like that would not be unprecedented. Throughout his career, Trout has often been compared with inner-circle Hall of Famer Willie Mays. Mays started his career with the New York Giants before their move to San Francisco, in New York he’d won a World Series, an MVP, and the adoration of New York fans.

In 1972, at age 41, the Giants completed a deal with the newly founded New York Mets to send Mays back to the city where he’d started his career. In fact, the final plate appearance of Mays’ career was a World Series groundout in 1973.

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Fellow Hall of Fame outfielder Hank Aaron also returned home to end his career. Like Mays, Aaron began his career in Milwaukee with the Braves before they moved to Atlanta. There, he won a World Series, an MVP, and the admiration of Milwaukee fans.

Just as Mays did, Aaron returned to Milwaukee at 41 to play with the newly founded Brewers for two seasons to end his career.

The path Mays and Aaron took did differ in one aspect. Mays returned home to New York in 1972 to chase another ring with the Mets. He forced a mid-season trade out of his contract with San Francisco.

Aaron, on the other hand, was traded to the Brewers on an expiring contract, the closest thing to a free agent deal before the end of MLB’s reserve clause. The Brewers were basement dwellers at the time, Aaron wanted to return home, not chase rings.

That distinction could be a decision-maker for Trout. If the Phillies are competitive in 2029 and 2030, it could attract a return to Philadelphia before the end of his contract with the Angels.

The Angels, like the Phillies, currently have a low-tier farm system and a host of expensive contracts to pay off. If they're still mired in mediocrity by the late-20s, it would make the decision for Trout far more simple.

Hometown Phillies fans cheer Mike Trout from from the stands at Citizens Bank Park.

Hometown Phillies fans cheer Mike Trout from from the stands at Citizens Bank Park.

Even if the Phillies are uncompetitive at that time, there seems to be an expectation that Trout would join the Phillies in free agency in 2031. Trout still has relatives in Philadelphia and there’s always been a push from his family and the fans to come back home.

"Obviously, a lot of people from home wanted me to come back east,” Trout said in a Bleacher Report article with Scott Miller in 2019.

Though Trout didn't appease those friends and family in 2019, perhaps he could later in his career. In Philadelphia, he could end his career right where it started, at Citizens Bank Park, riding off into the sunset with fellow Hall of Famer and teammate Bryce Harper.

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