Why Moreno decided not to sell the Angels

Owner discusses payroll, extending Ohtani in first meeting with local media in 2+ years

March 18th, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels owner Arte Moreno met with local beat reporters for the first time in more than two years on Saturday and spoke about a wide variety of topics during a 20-minute interview.

It comes on the heels of Moreno deciding not to sell the club after he initially explored a sale process in late August. Moreno, who also spoke to Sports Illustrated last week, had several offers, including three bids he said were higher than the record $2.42 billion sale of the Mets. But Moreno said his love of baseball caused him to have seller's remorse, and he decided not to sell the club.

Here's more on what Moreno had to say about several subjects, including the payroll, the club’s stadium situation and the future of two-way star Shohei Ohtani.

On why he didn’t sell the club:
“When I was going through the process, I just got cold feet walking around the stadium and talking business. I do not have a successor, and I’ve had a lot of activity after I pulled it off the market. But as of right now, I’m happy where I am. I just love baseball.”

On why he increased payroll, which is estimated at $222 million:
“We never stopped doing anything differently. I was communicating with [general manager Perry Minasian] on almost a daily basis. As soon as the season was over, we started looking at players available, and by category. It didn't change any of the holes we thought we had. So I told him, no matter what happens, is I want this team prepared to play and win. So we invested a lot of money. So I just really wanted to make sure that if I changed my mind that we were good. We felt like we were really aggressive.”

On his interest in Trea Turner before Minasian suggested addressing depth:
“We had this conversation because I really like Trea Turner. I watched him play with Washington and with the Dodgers. I love the way he plays. But we needed a lot of stuff.”

On how much of a priority it is to keep Ohtani:
“He’s arguably the most unique player and probably one of the top five or 10 players. It's a business. We're going to sit down. Ohtani has to want to be here, too. It’s a two-way street. It’s like with Mike [Trout], I spent a lot of time with Mike. I said, ‘You have to make a decision, and it has to be where you and your family want to be.’ Once we sit down with the agent [Nez Balelo], Ohtani has to figure out this is where he wants to be.”

On if they’ve started any extension talks:
“We haven’t.”

On if it’s more important to win this year to keep Ohtani:
“I think it's important to win every year, period. But I think Ohtani deserves to have an opportunity. Everybody deserves an opportunity.”

On if there’s enough payroll flexibility to sign Ohtani to a long-term deal:
“I think so. Yes. We’ve really positioned ourselves. After Mike and then [Anthony] Rendon after four years, we don’t really have any long-term contracts. So we’ve really worked to have financial flexibility.”

On the stadium deal that was canceled and where it stands:
“We tried to be as transparent as possible. The city council really had a contract that you couldn’t break, and they broke it. So in the agreement, they're supposed to pay our attorney fees. The new mayor [Ashleigh Aitken] has already met with [club president] John Carpino. And I'm going to meet with her in a few weeks -- Opening Day or a little after. She sent me a really nice letter and is really open to sitting down and figuring it out. But right now, our focus is on getting a team ready to compete.”

On construction delays at Tempe Diablo Stadium:
“We committed to put $10 million in two phases, and we did it. But the bid came in high, and so we semi-delayed it. Perry, [manager Phil] Nevin and I walked the Minor League facility the other day to talk about the changes. We continue to powwow, and John will be here on Tuesday to walk the stadium. We talked to the City of Tempe a week ago Friday and laid out our plan and the economics. We’re going to blend Phase 1 and Phase 2. I would say [it will be ready] after Spring Training next year."