Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno exploring possible sale of team

The Los Angeles Angels could change hands.

Arte Moreno, who has presided over the franchise for nearly two decades, has “initiated a formal process to evaluate strategic alternatives, including a potential sale of the team,” it was announced Tuesday.

The expectation is that the Angels will eventually be sold, although Moreno and his team will keep their options open as to the potential new ownership structure and whether it is an individual, a group or some other form of source of knowledge could be said of the situation.

“While this difficult decision was entirely ours and deserves much thought, my family and I have ultimately decided that now is the time,” Moreno, 76, wrote in his statement. “Throughout this process, we will continue to operate the franchise in the best interests of our fans, employees, players and business partners.”

Moreno and his group have retained Galatioto Sports Partners as financial advisors in this process. GSP President Sal Galatioto and CEO Brad Katcher were part of the group that represented The Walt Disney Co. in the 2003 sale of the Angels to Moreno.

The Angels were coming off a World Series championship back then, and Moreno, the first Mexican to become a majority owner of a major league team, was an initial popular figure. He slashed beer prices, donated expensive free agents like Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, and helped spearhead the most successful sustained run in franchise history, a period that saw the Angels win five division titles in six years from 2004 through ’09 .

The Angels had stability at the helm, with Bill Stoneman as general manager and Mike Scioscia navigating a long stint as manager. The farm system continued to produce elite talent like Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Jered Weaver, a solid payroll starred the team, and at least 3 million fans visited the Angels ballpark annually.

But the Angels have only made the playoffs once since 2009, and at 52-71 they are fading towards their seventh straight losing season. They’ve employed generational talent in Mike Trout for over a decade and have enjoyed historic performances from two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani over the last two seasons, but the combination of bloated contracts – previously Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, currently Anthony Rendon – and an inferior farming system have put them out of the race in recent years.

As their post-season absences increased, Moreno faced severe criticism for interfering in decisions of baseball’s operations, refusing to exceed Major League Baseball’s luxury tax threshold, and for not devoting enough resources to the Angels’ player development efforts. The team’s payroll has ranked in the top third of the industry every year under Moreno, but many of the team’s signings in recent years have backfired.

The Angels have also navigated an unusual amount of sales in recent years. In the 15 years since Stoneman stepped down, they’ve hired four GMs – Tony Reagins, Jerry Dipoto, Billy Eppler and currently Perry Minasian. Brad Ausmus replaced Scioscia as manager in 2019 and was replaced a year later by Joe Maddon, who was fired in early June at the end of a long losing streak.

The team is expected to conduct a full manager search this offseason.

The possible sale of the franchise during this time makes Ohtani’s future look even bleaker. The reigning American League MVP is a free agent as of the end of the 2023 season, and speculation has been high that the Angels could trade him in the upcoming offseason. Ohtani’s presence provides the Angels with a significant sum of money due to his marketability in his native Japan, a factor that could motivate the Angels to keep him. But the industry’s perception that he will undoubtedly sign elsewhere as a free agent could also serve as a strong motivation to trade him before a new owner steps in, much like the Washington Nationals handled Juan Soto’s situation.

Trout, on the other hand, is signed until 2030 and has a no-trade clause.

“It was a great honor and privilege to own the Angels for 20 seasons,” Moreno said in his statement. “As an organization, we have worked to provide our fans with an affordable and family-friendly stadium experience, while developing competitive rosters that have included some of the best players of all time.”

Recently, Moreno and the Angels have dealt with a number of off-field issues, most notably the sudden death of young pitcher Tyler Skaggs in July 2019. Eric Kay, the Angels’ longtime communications director, was later arrested in connection with the overdose of Skaggs convicted.

The Angels were also at the center of MLB’s efforts to curb its pitchers’ use of illegal foreign substances on baseballs after the firing of longtime clubhouse attendant Brian Harkins, who manufactured and distributed a mixture of rosin and pine tar to players at both teams . Harkins has sued the Angels and MLB for defamation, saying distributing such substances is a long-accepted practice.

Moreno has also not been able to buy the land surrounding Angel Stadium, which he has long wanted. The latest deal was terminated by Anaheim City Council in May after an FBI investigation revealed allegations that then-mayor Harry Sidhu, who later resigned, provided the Angels with confidential information during negotiations.

The Angels are still tied to their stadium — the fourth-oldest of the majors — through 2029 and have the option to stay until 2038. They play in Anaheim, California in Orange County, but Moreno controversially added “Los Angeles” to the team’s name in 2005 to make the Angels a bigger brand. That decision may have played a role in the Angels landing a big TV deal in 2011, worth about $150 million a year and running until 2032.

The team was valued at $2.2 billion by Forbes in March.

Reaching 20 years of his ownership prompted Moreno to take a macro look at the franchise, leading to the decision to sell the team on with his family after much deliberation, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

In a statement, Mike Lyster, a spokesman for the city of Anaheim, wrote: “We’ve seen three Angels owners since the team moved here in 1966. While team sales don’t happen every day, they are a fact of the sport. This is a possible decision for Arte Moreno based on his investments and family considerations. Should we see a new owner, we look forward to continuing a great baseball tradition in Anaheim.”

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34447735/los-angeles-angels-owner-arte-moreno-exploring-possible-sale-team Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno exploring possible sale of team

Emma Bowman

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