Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno finally broke his silence and spoke to the local media for the first time in three years. There are a lot of interesting tidbits in this article which I encourage you to check out.
Moreno spoke about things like upgrades to the Angels facility in Tempe, mistreatment of minor leaguers, and much more. While it was good to hear about those things, a lot of the conversation was dominated by discussion about Shohei Ohtani, his future, and the Angels payroll.
A full transcript of the interview can be found via Sam Blum of The Athletic (subscription required).
Arte Moreno's comments about Shohei Ohtani and his future with the Angels are discouraging
When discussing payroll, Arte gave his typical answer of we spend and people forget what I've done.
"Every year, I’ve spent money. We’ve gone back and looked at who we picked up. People like to focus on the investments that we made that didn’t work out. They forget about the investments that we made that did work out. You look at a (Vladimir) Guerrero, you look at a (Bartolo) Colon. You look at a Torii Hunter. And you look at some of the players we brought in that really performed."- Arte Moreno via Sam Blum of The Athletic
Arte, people forget about those signings because they were over a decade ago. Every big signing since has been an absolute disaster. The Angels have gone over the luxury tax ONE time with you as owner. They're not spending like a team in the second biggest market in the country, and we have insight as to why that is with what Moreno had to say later on.
"One of the things we’ve tried to do is keep everything affordable. And from the day I walked in, affordable tickets, affordable concessions, affordable souvenirs. And you can go to other parks and just walk around and look at the prices. And you can look at our prices. The press doesn’t like to talk about it, but we really have an affordable fan experience. I always tell people, sometimes people want something they really don’t know. They really like that car, and then they have to make the payment."- Arte Moreno via Sam Blum of The Athletic
Having a more affordable experience is a wonderful thing, but the fans want to win. I'm sure a vast majority of fans would pay a bit more in tickets and concessions if the team was winning games and playing competitive baseball.
When asked about how much of a priority it is to keep Ohtani, Arte had this to say.
"He’s arguably the most unique player. Probably one of the top five or 10 players. It’s business, but we’re going to sit down. Ohtani has to want to be here, too. It’s a two-way street. When we started talking to Mike, I spent a lot of time with Mike. I just said, “You have to make a decision. This is where you want to be. This is where you want your family to be.” We started sitting down with the agent. And Ohtani, he has to figure out if this is where he wants to be."- Arte Moreno via Sam Blum of The Athletic
Probably the most unique? Who has done what he does? One of the top five or ten players? Ohtani is by far and away the best player in baseball. Talking down on Ohtani like this probably isn't the best way for you to sweeten him up for a deal, but I digress..
Onto the rest of this statement. Moreno is making it abundantly clear that he has no idea whether Ohtani wants to be here or not. That's a problem. When asked about whether he's had any discussions with Ohtani about his future, all Moreno said was "we have not."
This combined with the fact that Moreno is unwilling to trade Ohtani under virtually any circumstance puts Perry MInasian and the Angels in a bit of an uncomfortable situation.
This team is good enough to be a playoff team. We all know that. Can they win it all? You never know. If they win it all and then lose Ohtani for nothing, I think most Angels fans will be satisfied. If they don't win, and especially don't make the postseason AND lose Ohtani for nothing, that's worst case scenario.
Arte has to get a feel of what Ohtani is thinking. Based on this interview it feels like he's just not even trying. Don't just ignore him and try to talk him down by saying he's not the best or not the most unique. Who knows, Ohtani might even shock us all and be willing to negotiate! You'll only know if you try.