Arte Moreno Explains Why He Didn’t Sell Angels, Shares Plans for Shohei Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno pauses on the field before a spring training baseball game.

Angels owner Arte Moreno attends a spring training game between the Angels and the Dodgers March 3 at Tempe Diablo Stadium. (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

Arte Moreno just couldn’t do it. The Angels owner, who put the team up for sale in August, told Sports Illustrated he’s not ready to give up his team despite receiving three offers worth more than a record $2.42 billion, for which Steve Cohen bought the New York Mets in 2020.

“I had some big numbers,” Moreno said in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci. “Yeah, it was above the Mets number. Well, it was well above the Mets’ count.

“A buyer came to me [Angel Stadium] to close the deal,” he said, then recounted the exchange with the buyer. “When you went about it the right way, I didn’t want to go.”

Moreno has not spoken to local media for three years. His interview with Verducci was his first detailed commentary on the angels in at least two years.

He told SI that the Angels had five real trade offers for Shohei Ohtani last year and stated they wouldn’t trade him this year while they fight for a playoff spot. When asked if he would consider trading him if the Angels didn’t make the playoffs, Moreno replied:

“We expect to be a playoff contender. Everything in our plans to put this team together revolves around making the playoffs. So I’m not going to sit here and wonder what happens in an outcome that we don’t plan. That would be like a fighter walking into the ring and thinking, “What if I lose?” If he does, he will lose.”

While opening up on his decision not to sell, Moreno said his previous decision to put the team up for sale wasn’t because he fell out of love with baseball.

“It was more of a circumstance than a change of heart. It wasn’t a change of heart,” he said.

Moreno announced his decision to consider selling the team in August 2022. The team was 52-71 at the time and mathematically eliminated from the playoffs 27 days later.

Four months earlier, the Anaheim City Council completed the deal to sell Angel Stadium and the surrounding property to Moreno’s management company, which planned to develop the property and either renovate or replace the stadium. It was a quick bid to limit the fallout after an FBI affidavit revealed that Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu was under investigation for public corruption, with investigators claiming he provided confidential city information to Moreno’s management company, hoping that Angels executives would reciprocate with at least $1 million in donations towards his re-election campaign.

The FBI has never charged Moreno and the Angels with any wrongdoing, and it was far from the only major corporation that officials from Sidhu and the city have been accused of. Sidhu resigned and the council is still sorting out the consequences.

The corruption probe prompted a deeper look at the Angels’ lost decade, as fans booed Moreno on the pitch during celebrations as the club recorded their seventh straight season of defeats. The Angels overspent on a handful of stars who didn’t always stay healthy, failed to develop a farming system that ranks among the worst in baseball, had no plan to modernize one of baseball’s oldest stadiums, cycled through four manager five years and four general managers in 12 years and are defendants in two high-profile lawsuits – one for wrongful death following pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ overdose and the other for defamation by former clubhouse manager Bubba Harkins.

Moreno declined to say why he decided to put the team up for sale, but SI reported from sources close to Moreno that he was rocked by the intense negative discourse surrounding the franchise.

“I learned a long time ago, some things are better left unsaid,” Moreno told SI when asked why he briefly launched the team.

Moreno said he doesn’t come cheap when it comes to creating a roster. He shared his thoughts on the luxury tax rules, explaining why he voted against raising the luxury tax and noting that he doesn’t hate superspending like the Mets or Dodgers.

“I like the fact that people want to win,” he said. “But I just want everyone to have a chance. As if someone came to my house [for a card game] and everyone bets a thousand dollars and one bets a hundred, I mean how many hands can he play? It’s just not fun.”

He said that while he didn’t always spend money on players who prevailed, he still invested in trying to win.

“We’ve been in the top 10 payrolls for the last eight to ten years. I can’t tell you that we always spent the money right. But we spent money,” he said. “So if someone criticizes me for not being committed to winning, well, I’m committed to winning.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Arte Moreno Explains Why He Didn’t Sell Angels, Shares Plans for Shohei Ohtani

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