- ESPN baseball reporter. Covered the L.A. Rams for ESPN from 2016 to 2018 and the L.A. Angels for MLB.com from 2012 to 2016.
Arte Moreno is exploring the possibility of selling the Los Angeles Angels after two decades of ownership, it was announced Tuesday.
The Angels said they have “initiated a formal process to evaluate strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the team,” and have retained Galatioto Sports Partners as financial advisors in the process.
“Although this difficult decision was entirely our choice and deserved a great deal of thoughtful consideration, my family and I have ultimately come to the conclusion that now is the time,” Moreno said in a statement. “Throughout this process, we will continue to run the franchise in the best interest of our fans, employees, players and business partners.”
Moreno became the first Mexican-American to become majority owner of a major league team when he purchased the Angels from The Walt Disney Co. for about $184 million in 2003. The Angels were coming off a World Series championship, and he initially oversaw the most successful run in the franchise’s history. With Bill Stoneman as the general manager, Mike Scioscia as the manager, a relatively robust payroll and a farm system that continued to churn out impact talent, the Angels won five division titles in a six-year stretch from 2004 to 2009 and continually drew at least 3 million fans to their ballpark.
But they have made the playoffs only once in the last 13 years and are on their way to their seventh consecutive losing season. The Angels have employed a generational talent in Mike Trout for 10 years and have enjoyed historic performances from two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani over the last two seasons. The franchise, however, has been unable to produce much of any homegrown talent since Trout matriculated out of its system in 2011, continually ranking among the worst farm systems in the industry because of bad drafts, inferior player development and lacking infrastructure.
That, coupled with bad free-agent signings and constant turnover in the front office and with the coaching staff, have turned the Angels into an afterthought despite employing two of the game’s most exciting players.
The team in March was estimated to be worth $2.2 billion by Forbes magazine.
Lately, the team has also dealt with an assortment of off-field issues, most notably the sudden death of young pitcher Tyler Skaggs in July of 2019. Eric Kay, the Angels’ longtime communications director, was later convicted in connection to his overdose. Moreno has also been unable to purchase the land surrounding Angel Stadium, which he has long desired. The latest deal was killed by the Anaheim City Council in May in the wake of an FBI investigation that alleged then-mayor Harry Sidhu, who later stepped down, provided confidential information to the Angels during the negotiation.
The Angels are still bound to their stadium — the fourth-oldest in the majors — through 2029 and have the option of staying as late as 2038. They play out of Anaheim, California, which is located in Orange County, but Moreno controversially added “Los Angeles” to the team name in 2005 to help make them a bigger brand.
The potential sale of the franchise makes Ohtani’s future seem even murkier. Ohtani, the reigning American League MVP, is a free agent at the end of the 2023 season, and there was already heavy speculation that the Angels could trade him this coming offseason. Ohtani’s presence, however, provides the Angels with a substantial sum of money because of his marketability in Japan, which might make a trade even less likely under the current circumstances. Trout, meanwhile, is signed through 2030 and has a no-trade clause.
“It has been a great honor and privilege to own the Angels for 20 seasons,” Moreno said as part of his statement on Tuesday. “As an organization, we have worked to provide our fans an affordable and family-friendly ballpark experience while fielding competitive lineups which included some of the game’s all-time greatest players.”
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