Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno announced Tuesday he has begun a formal process to “evaluate strategic alternatives including a possible sale of the team.” Moreno purchased the Angels from Disney for $180 million in May 2003, a few months after the franchise won its only World Series championship.
Here is Moreno’s statement on a potential sale:
“It has been a great honor and privilege to own the Angels for 20 seasons. As an organization, we have worked to provide our fans an affordable and family-friendly ballpark experience while fielding competitive lineups which included some of the game’s all-time greatest players.”
“Although this difficult decision was entirely our choice and deserved a great deal of thoughtful consideration, my family and I have ultimately come to the conclusion that now is the time. Throughout this process, we will continue to run the franchise in the best interest of our fans, employees, players, and business partners.”
This news comes three months after the Anaheim City Council voided a $320 million deal to sell the 153-acre Angel Stadium property to Moreno, who would have then developed the real estate. The deal was negotiated illegally and the City Council paid a $96 million fine following a FBI corruption probe into former mayor Harry Sidhu. Sidhu resigned shortly thereafter.
Moreno, 76, is MLB’s only non-white principal owner. He will leave behind a complicated legacy, one in which he consistently spent money on the big-league team but too often meddled in the day-to-day operations, and reportedly went over the front office’s head to broker several large free-agent contracts . The Angels were among the first teams to furlough employees during the pandemic shutdown in 2020, and Moreno pushed to cancel that year’s amateur draft as a cost-cutting move.
The Angels have not been to the postseason since 2014 and they have not won a postseason game since 2009. With the caveat that a lot can change between now and a sale, the next Angels owner will inherit a team with several pricey long-term contracts . Also, the Angels are currently being sued by the family of former pitcher Tyler Skaggs following his drug-related death in 2019.
Here are three things to know about the fallout stemming from the news Moreno is exploring a sale of the Angels.
Ohtani’s future is even cloudier
When a team is put up for sale, it creates a whole lot of uncertainty. Will the new owner come in and pump money into the roster in an effort to contend like Steve Cohen with the Mets? Or will he authorize a tear down and a rebuild? The argument can be made the Angels need a rebuild. Then again, new owners typically like to come in and make a splash.
Shohei Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP, is scheduled to become a free agent after next season. He has indicated his top priority is winning, and the Angels are not doing that. Can a new owner come in and convince Ohtani to sign long-term? surah Could a new owner come in and realize trading in Ohtani, while painful, is the best path forward? So sure.
It should be noted an Ohtani trade would be extremely unpopular with the Angels fanbase, in which case prospective owners may want Moreno’s regime to make that trade, allowing them to come in and be the good guys. The Nationals, who are also for sale, essentially followed that blueprint with Juan Soto. The current owner ripped off the band-aid. The new owner gets a clean slate.
A new owner would also create uncertainty about Mike Trout’s future. Now 31, Trout is signed through 2030 at huge dollars, and injuries have become more frequent in recent years. Trout has full no-trade protection and controls his own destiny. The question is whether a new owner would keep Trout and build around him, or try to sell him on the idea of a fresh start elsewhere.
Two MLB teams will be up for sale
As noted, the Nationals are up for sale as well. A legal battle among the Angelo’s family has led to speculation the Orioles could be sold too. The Nationals most definitely are for sale, however, complicating things for both Washington and the Angels. Neither is the only team up for sale now, meaning they’ll compete for the same potential owners.
Cohen purchased the Mets for roughly $2.4 billion in Nov. 2020. The Royals were sold to John Sherman for $1 billion in 2019, and the Marlins were sold to Bruce Sherman for $1.2 billion in 2017. As a large -market team in Southern California, the Angels figure to fetch a price much nearer to what the Mets sold for rather than the Royals and Marlins.
A new ballpark could be on the way
Moreno has been trying to secure a new ballpark for several years and the new owner will presumably pick up the torch. Angel Stadium is the fourth oldest ballpark in the big leagues behind Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Dodger Stadium, and the team’s lease runs through 2029. So, a new ballpark is not a pressing matter the way it is for, say, the Athletics , but it is certain to be a top priority for the next owner.