Arte Moreno just couldn’t do it. The Angels owner, who had put the team up for sale in August, told Sports Illustrated that he was not ready to give up his team despite receiving three offers worth more than the record $2.42 billion for which he Steve Cohen bought the New York Mets in 2021.
“I had some big numbers,” Moreno said. in an interview with Tom Verducci of SI’s Sports Illustrated. “Yeah, it was above the Mets number. Well, it was considerably above the Mets’ number.
“I had a buyer come to (Angel Stadium) to close the deal,” he said, later recounting the trade with the buyer. “When it came to it, I didn’t want to go.”
Moreno has not spoken to the local media in three years. His interview with Verducci represented his first detailed comments on the Angels in at least two years.
He told SI that last year, the Angels had five actual trade offers for Shohei Ohtani and stated they would not trade him this year as they compete for a playoff spot. Asked if he would consider trading him if the Angels aren’t in playoff contention, Moreno replied:
“We hope to be a playoff contender. Everything in our plans to put together this team is about making the playoffs. So I’m not going to sit here and wonder what happens in an outcome that we’re not planning for. That would be like a boxer walking into the ring and thinking, ‘What if I lose?’ If he does that, he will lose.”
Opening up about his decision not to sell, Moreno said his earlier decision to put the team up for sale was not because he fell in love with baseball.
“It was more circumstantial than a change of heart. It was not a change of heart,” she said.
Moreno announced his decision to explore selling the team in August 2022. The team was 52-71 at the time and would be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs 27 days later.
Four months earlier, the Anaheim City Council voided the deal to sell Angel Stadium and surrounding property to Moreno’s management company, which planned to develop the property and renovate or replace the stadium. It was a swift effort to limit fallout after an FBI affidavit revealed Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu was under investigation for public corruption, with investigators alleging he provided sensitive city information to Moreno’s management company. hoping that Angels executives would reciprocate at least $1 million in donations supporting his re-election campaign.
The FBI never charged Moreno and the Angels with any wrongdoing and was far from the only major company that Sidhu and city representatives were accused of courting. Sidhu resigned and the council is still weighing the consequences.
The corruption investigation triggered a deeper look at the Angels’ lost decade, with fans booing Moreno during on-field celebrations as the club posted its seventh straight losing season. The Angels spent too much on a handful of stars who didn’t always stay healthy, failed to develop a farm system that ranks among the worst in baseball, had no plans to improve one of baseball’s oldest stadiums, went through four managers in five years and four general managers in 12 years and are defendants in two high-profile trials: one for wrongful death following pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ overdose and the other for defamation brought by former clubhouse manager Bubba Harkins.
Moreno declined to say why he decided to put the team up for sale, but SI reported that sources close to Moreno indicated that he was shocked by the intense negative discourse surrounding the franchise.
“I learned a long time ago, you know, some things are better left unsaid,” Moreno told SI when asked why he briefly put the team on the market.
Moreno said it wasn’t cheap when it came to building a list. He shared his thoughts on the luxury tax rules, explained why he voted against raising the luxury tax and noted that he doesn’t hate big spenders like the Mets or Dodgers.
“I like the fact that people want to win,” he said. “But I would like everyone to have a chance. Like if someone comes to my house (for a card game) and everyone puts in a thousand dollars and one guy puts in a hundred, I mean how many hands can he play? It’s just not fun.
He said that while he hasn’t always spent money on players who did well, he’s still invested in trying to win.
“We have been in the last eight to 10 years in the top 10 payrolls. I can’t tell you that we have always spent money well. But we spend money,” she said. “So if someone criticizes me that I’m not committed to winning, well, I’m committed to winning.”