It's a rough time to be a fan of the Los Angeles Angels. Shohei Ohtani, the greatest player of his, and possibly any, generation, just bolted for the team across town, and if a new report from the L.A. Times is to be believed, Angels owner Arte Moreno didn't even make an effort to keep him.
Dodgers beat writer Jack Harris posted a story Thursday night that, while free of nudity and violence, still contains graphic content not suitable for Angels fans (note that the article is behind a paywall, but should be viewable for anyone who hasn't read five L.A. Times articles this month).
Before posting to Instagram on Saturday that he was joining the Dodgers, Ohtani had kept his free agency shrouded in secrecy, but Harris reports that Ohtani and agent Nez Balelo gave the Angels a final opportunity to win him over. It's unclear from the report whether a final meeting ever took place, but what is clear is that the Angels declined to match the Dodgers contract offer, and Arte Moreno was the reason why.
Angels fans no doubt remember that it was Moreno who chose not to trade Ohtani at the trade deadline, instead trying to win him over by proving that the Angels were committed to winning. The move backfired spectacularly, so much so that the Angels cut most of their new acquisitions less than a month later after completely falling out of the race.
Arte Moreno is an owner without a plan.
Did Moreno believe that Ohtani would give the Angels a nine-figure hometown discount? If so, he's more naive than someone who thought the Astros were banging those trash cans to audition for Blue Man Group. Even after nosediving in the season's final two months, Ohtani still gave the Angels the courtesy of a final meeting, and Moreno's response was to let him walk.
In the words of one of the Bobs from Office Space, what would you say you do here? Why not trade Ohtani and restock the farm system if you weren't willing to negotiate in good faith when the time came? It was always known that Ohtani's contract would be record-setting, so Moreno can't use the excuse that the price was too high.
Angels fans have been fed up with Moreno's stewardship for years. The fanbase rejoiced when Moreno announced in 2022 that he would be selling the team, then shrieked in collective dismay when he reneged five months later.
Now, there's no clear path to a successful future for a franchise that is starved for success. The Angels haven't made the playoffs since 2014, and it's not going out on a limb to say that they won't end that string of futility in 2024.
The buck stops with Moreno. The man that bestowed two of the worst contracts in baseball history upon Albert Pujols and Anthony Rendon just let the best player in baseball walk, when he might have had a chance to convince him to stay.
Unfortunately, there's no real recourse for Angels fans outside of shaming Moreno into selling the team. Look at the A's, whose fans did everything in their power to keep the team in Oakland by pressuring owner John Fisher into selling the team. Oakland fans will say that at least Angels fans still have a team, but with Moreno running the show, that doesn't feel like a good thing.