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OC Register: Rob Manfred: The marketing of Angels’ Mike Trout starts with Trout

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WASHINGTON — Among the certainties in baseball are that Mike Trout will be the best player in the game, and that there will be a hand-wringing discussion about whether Trout is as famous as a player with that designation should be.

Commissioner Rob Manfred weighed in on the oft-discussed topic on Tuesday, saying that MLB would love to do more to promote Trout, but it has to start with Trout.

“Player marketing requires one thing, for sure: the player,” Manfred said at his annual All-Star Game press conference. “You can not market a player passively. You can’t market anything passively. You need people to engage with those to whom are trying to market in order to have effective marketing.”

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Trout has said at every opportunity that he has no interest in marketing himself or becoming anything more of a celebrity than he is. He is trying to win a World Series and be the best player in the world, obviously with more success at the latter than the former, though no fault of his own.

A day earlier, Trout had said he’d give up all the individual accolades and the All-Star Games to win a World Series, so this is certainly not a player interested in any more personal attention.

He has twice declined opportunities to play in the World Baseball Classic, and he has ever participated in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game.

“I’d rather just have that night with my family, spend time with them,” Trout said last week. “I just want to relax and enjoy the day. Just watch it… I just never had any interest in doing it.”

For as much as Major League Baseball would love Trout on either of those stages, he doesn’t want or need it.

The 26-year-old Trout has two seasons left on a $145-million deal that has him as the highest paid player in the sport this season, earning just over $34 million a year.

“Mike is a great great player, and a really nice person, but he’s made certain decisions with what he wants to do and what he doesn’t want to do, and how he wants to spend his free time and how he doesn’t want to spend his free time,” Manfred said. “That’s up to him. If he wants to engage and be more active in that area, I think we could help him make his brand really really big, but he has to make a decision that he’s prepared to engage in that area. It takes time and effort.”

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