The Angels appear poised for a major overhaul, as owner Arte Moreno announced on Tuesday that he would retain financial advisers to explore potential franchise sales. The news shocked the public, but Ken Rosenthal of Athletics reported that Moreno had been planning to sell the team for a while before making the announcement. One source told Rosenthal that the sale had been under consideration for more than two months.
Exactly when Moreno decides on this action is unclear, but appears to be in June at the latest. As Rosenthal points out, it provides some interesting context for Halo’s approach to trading deadlines — particularly with the organization’s handling of the ruling AL MVP. Shohei Ohtani. Reports emerged in late July that Angel was listening to trading offers on Ohtani, but any speculation was quickly dashed when Halo 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’s trade at a time when fellow superstars Mike Trout was on the injury list. Buster Olney from ESPN conveyed similar sentiments this week, writing that the club’s baseball operations department views this summer as the ideal time to extract maximum returns for Ohtani, who is eligible for arbitration one last time before reaching free agency after 2023. However, Moreno stepped up and indicated he would not be approve trade.
Following the announcement that Moreno was exploring sales, there was much speculation among rival fan bases that Ohtani’s next offseason trade could be more viable than this summer’s. But Rosenthal feels that’s unlikely, arguing that Moreno’s refusal to tackle Ohtani by a deadline while already planning to explore franchise sales is unlikely to change over the winter.
It is not known how long the sale process will last, but it could continue until the end of the season. For reference, the Lerner family announced shortly after Opening Day, they explored selling the Nationals. Earlier this week, Barry Svrulga, Ben Strauss and Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post suggested that the process could be completed by November, about seven months after the team’s announcement, a sale was being considered. If the Angels process followed the same schedule, it would be closer to Opening Day 2023. Each situation is individual, of course, and one cannot know exactly at this stage how long the likely sale of the Anaheim franchise will last. Yet the Nationals situation serves as an example of the complexity of a deal of this magnitude, and it looks likely that Moreno will retain possession for at least the early stages of the offseason.
Ohtani’s future is just one of many important decisions facing the Angels as the franchise prepares for a possible monumental change. Clubs must choose a manager, with Phil Nevin currently in an interim role after the team sacked Joe Maddon in early June. General manager Perry Minasian and his staff will also be tasked with trying to tackle what will be a seventh straight losing season and possibly make another push for the fight in 2023. How much financial flexibility will be available in the front office remains to be seen.
Halos enters the season with a northern franchise record salary of $188MM, according to Cot Baseball Contract. Jason Martinez from Name list estimates the club has a little over $103MM of deposit on the books for next season. That doesn’t include what is sure to be a huge increase for Ohtani to his $5.5 million salary this season, and the team will also be looking at first baseman. Jared Walsh reach arbitration for the first time. Halo didn’t face many significant free agent departures, but they arguably stood to use external assistance in shortstop, left field, catcher and in both rotation and bullpen.