The Angels look set for a major uproar as owner Arte Moreno announced on Tuesday that he had hired financial advisers to investigate a potential sale of the franchise. The news came as a surprise publicly, but the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that Moreno had planned to consider selling the team for a while before making the announcement. A source tells Rosenthal that a sale has been under consideration for more than two months.
It’s not clear when Moreno decided on this course of action, but it appears to have been sometime in June at the latest. As Rosenthal points out, that provides interesting context for the Halo’s approach to trade deadlines — particularly with the organization’s handling of the reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani. Reports emerged in late July that the Angels were listening to trading offers on Ohtani, but any speculation was quickly quelled when the Halos took the two-way star off the market on August 1.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported shortly after the deadline that Moreno banned the front office from exploring Ohtani transactions at a time when fellow superstar Mike Forel was on the injured list. ESPN’s Buster Olney conveyed a similar sentiment this week, writing that the club’s baseball operations division saw this summer as the ideal time to maximize returns for Ohtani, who will qualify for arbitration for one last time before leaving. reached a free agency after 2023. Moreno, however, stepped in and indicated that he would not approve a trade.
In the wake of the announcement that Moreno was investigating a sale, there was much speculation among rival fanbases that an Ohtani trade could be more viable next off-season than this summer. But Rosenthal thinks that’s unlikely, reasoning that Moreno’s refusal to sell Ohtani on the deadline, while already planning a sale of the franchise, isn’t likely to change over the winter.
It is unknown how long the sales process will take, but it could take well into the off-season. For reference, the Lerner family announced shortly after opening day that they were investigating a sale of the Nationals. Earlier this week, Barry Svrulga, Ben Strauss and Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post suggested the process could be finalized in November, about seven months after the team announced that a sale was being considered. If the Angels process follows a similar timetable, it would be close to opening day 2023. Each situation is of course individual and one cannot know exactly how long the potential sale of the Anaheim franchise may last at this stage. Still, the Nationals’ situation serves as an example of the complexity of a deal of this magnitude, and it seems likely that Moreno will remain in ownership, at least for the early stages of the off-season.
Ohtani’s future is just one of many major decisions facing the Angels as the franchise prepares for a potentially monumental change. The club will have to settle for a manager, with Phil Nevin currently occupying the role on an interim basis after the team sacked Joe Maddon in early June. General manager Perry Minasian and his staff will also be tasked with trying to overcome the seventh consecutive losing season and presumably compete again in 2023. How much financial flexibility is available to the front office remains to be seen.
The Halos entered this season with a franchise-record salary north of $188 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Jason Martinez of Roster Recourse estimates the club has just over $103 million in guaranteed money on the books for next season. That excludes what will surely be a huge raise for Ohtani over this season’s $5.5 million salary, and the team will also see its first baseman. Jared Walsh come to arbitration for the first time. The Halos aren’t facing much significant departures from a free agent, but they could arguably use outside help at shortstop, left field, catcher, and in both the rotation and bullpen.
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