The Angels appear set for a major shake-up, as owner Arte Moreno announced Tuesday he’d retained financial advisors to explore a potential sale of the franchise. The news came as a surprise publicly, but Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reports that Moreno had planned to look into selling the team for a while before making the announcement. One source tells Rosenthal a sale has been under consideration for upwards of two months.
Precisely when Moreno settled upon this course of action isn’t clear, but it appears to have been at some point in June at the latest. As Rosenthal points out, that provides some interesting context for the Halos’ approach to the trade deadline — specifically with the organization’s handling of reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani. Reports emerged in late July the Angels were listening to trade offers on Ohtani, but any speculation was quickly dashed when the Halos took the two-way star off the market by August 1.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported shortly after the deadline that Moreno forbade the front office from exploring Ohtani trades at a time when fellow superstar Mike Trout was on the injured list. Buster Olney of ESPN relayed a similar sentiment this week, writing that the club’s baseball operations department viewed this summer as the ideal time to extract a maximum return for Ohtani, who is arbitration-eligible for a final time before reaching free agency after 2023. Moreno, however, stepped in and indicated he wouldn’t approve a trade.
In the aftermath of the announcement that Moreno was exploring a sale, there was plenty of speculation among rival fanbases that an Ohtani trade next offseason could be more viable than it was this summer. Yet Rosenthal feels that’s unlikely, reasoning that Moreno’s refusal to deal Ohtani at the deadline while already planning to explore a sale of the franchise seems unlikely to change over the winter.
It isn’t known how long the sales process will take, but it could extend well into the offseason. For reference, the Lerner family announced shortly after Opening Day they were exploring a sale of the Nationals. Earlier this week, Barry Svrulga, Ben Strauss and Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post suggested that process could be wrapped up by November, around seven months after the team’s announcement a sale was under consideration. If the Angels’ process follows a similar timetable, it’d push near Opening Day 2023. Each situation is individual, of course, and one can’t know precisely at this stage how long the possible sale of the Anaheim franchise might take. Yet the Nationals situation serves as an example of the complexity of a deal of this magnitude, and it seems likely Moreno will retain ownership at least for the early stages of the offseason.
Ohtani’s future is just one of many key decisions the Angels face as the franchise prepares for a possible monumental change. The club will have to settle upon a manager, with Phil Nevin currently holding the role on an interim basis after the team dismissed Joe Maddon in early June. General manager Perry Minasian and his staff will also be tasked with trying to overcome what’s set to be a seventh straight losing season and presumably make another push for contention in 2023. How much financial flexibility will be at the front office’s disposal remains to be seen.
The Halos entered this season with a franchise-record payroll north of $188MM, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Jason Martinez of Roster Recourse estimates the club has a bit above $103MM in guaranteed money on the books for next season. That doesn’t include what’ll surely be a massive raise for Ohtani over this season’s $5.5MM salary, and the team will also see first baseman Jared Walsh reach arbitration for the first time. The Halos aren’t facing many significant free agent departures, but they could arguably stand to use external help at shortstop, left field, catcher and in both the rotation and the bullpen.