On second thought, Arte Moreno decided not to sell the Angels.
On Monday, five months after the team was put up for sale, Moreno announced it would retain ownership. Potential buyers were reviewing the team’s finances and visiting the stadium, and preliminary bids were scheduled for the next month.
“Throughout this process it has become clear that we have unfinished business and we feel we can make a positive impact on the future of the team and the fan experience,” Moreno said in a statement. “This season, we’ve stuck to franchise record player pay scales and still want to achieve our goal of returning the World Series to our fans.”
In August, Moreno announced that it had hired an investment banker, stopping short of an unconditional commitment to sell, but saying the process should begin. “Now is the time,” Moreno said in a statement.
Not surprisingly, the owner bids, and then decides not to sell because the bids fell short. In this case, with the Angels expected to sell for a record price for a Major League Baseball franchise—at least $2.5 billion—Moreno decided over the past week to simply call off the sale without taking any bids.
With the Angels garrisoning their roster this winter, Moreno is said to have been active in retaining ownership, and as such his decision wasn’t about how many potential buyers they might have or what they might have a bid for.
More than a half dozen potential buyers have expressed interest, including Joe Lacob, owner of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times; and investors from Japan.
It is uncertain whether or not such a standard MLB show would ever materialize. The Washington Nationals haven’t found a buyer despite being up for sale since April. The Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins may soon be up for sale, according to MLB sources who declined to be identified, and the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays still have to secure the new ballpark each team has sought for more than a decade.
It is also uncertain whether the Angels bidder will request a price adjustment. The Angel Stadium lease expires in 2029, and the owner will likely have to choose between spending hundreds of millions of dollars on renovation costs, spending $1 billion on a new stadium or trying to find a new home.
Moreno and the City of Anaheim had agreed to a deal that would see him keep the team in the city until 2050, renovate or replace Angel Stadium at his expense, and build a neighborhood over the stadium’s parking lots.
The city killed that deal in May amid a federal corruption investigation in which an FBI agent said former Mayor Harry Seydow shared classified information about the city with the Angels in the hopes of eliciting a $1 million campaign contribution from them. Seydoux resigned, but denied any wrongdoing and was not charged with a crime.
However, the collapse of that deal marked the second time in a decade that City had walked away from an agreement with Moreno, turning his attention to a potential sale of the team within weeks. It is uncertain whether he will consider a third round of negotiations with Anaheim.
“When the time is right, the city will be welcome and open to having these types of long-term discussions,” said Anaheim Mayor Ashley Aitken. “Now, we’ll let the dust settle.”
Moreno The decision could complicate the Angels’ effort to retain superstar Shohei Ohtani, who could leave as a free agent after the season. Otani made it clear that he wanted to win. Under Moreno’s ownership, the Angels haven’t won a postseason game since 2009 or played in one since 2014, tied with the Detroit Tigers for the longest running drought in baseball.
In the fall, the Angels agreed to a one-year, $30 million contract with Ohtani, with Moreno intending to let a new owner consider a long-term deal with Ohtani. That consideration now belongs to Moreno, who signed Mike Trout in 2019 to what remains the richest contract in baseball history: $426.5 million.
The Angels also agreed to a one-year contract with Phil Nevin, who finished last season as caretaker manager, so that the new owner could consider his own management team. This consideration also belongs to Moreno.
Under Moreno, the Angels lagged behind their competitors in scouting and player development.
Nevin said he thought Moreno staying was “fantastic”.
“When you don’t win, fans will point fingers at a lot of things, but they shouldn’t be pointed in his direction,” Nevin said. “He wants to win as badly as anyone else, and our job now is to give him that chance. He gave us the resources to put us in a good position for this, and now it’s on us.”
Moreno, 76, bought the Angels for $183.5 million in 2003, one year after the team won the title in its only World Series appearance in their 62-season history. Starting in 2004, the Angels have won the American League West championship in five out of six years.
However, the Angels have endured seven straight losing seasons. They sold 3 million tickets every year from 2003 to 2019, but they sold 2.46 million tickets last year.
Through a spokesperson, Moreno declined to comment beyond his statement.
“Despite Jupiter’s strong interest in the Angels, Arte Moreno’s love of the game is most important to him,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “I am very happy that the Moreno family has decided to continue owning the team.”
“I wouldn’t sell either,” former Angels star Tori Hunter said. “The Angels are a Major League Baseball club, man, they’re in Orange County, and I think a little more marketing, a couple more wins, and this franchise is going to change.”
Hunter said he had a good idea of what Moreno meant when he said he had “unfinished business”.
“I’m sure he’s talking about a championship,” Hunter said. “I mean, you’ve got two of the best players in the world. Whoever signed overseas, they [are] They’re still the two best players in the world, right? Maybe you need some promotion. So he probably has a plan, and hopefully within the next year or two, that plan will be, because the Angels are still my team.”
Angels Hall of Famer and current broadcaster Tim Salmon said he was “pleasantly surprised” by Moreno’s decision to retain ownership.
“I love Artie,” Salmon said. “I love the things he’s done. I’m a supporter. I think he’s an owner who’s passionate about winning, and every player would love to play for someone like that.”
“And I know people have concerns when something doesn’t go right, but at the end of the day, to wake up every winter and see the guy sign everyone possible to improve your team… I mean, we’ve been here for 10 years where we’ve done none of that, So the variance is huge. And that’s why I’m a big supporter.”
#Arte #Moreno #longer #selling #Angels #remain #owner #season