ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno said Tuesday he is exploring the possibility of selling the franchise, a move that surprised superstar slugger Mike Trout and was welcomed by Hall of Famer Rod Carew.
Moreno purchased the team for $184 million in 2003, a year after it won its first World Series championship. The club was then known as the Anaheim Angels, a name that Moreno changed in a move that drew ire in the Orange County city.
The Angels haven’t made the postseason since 2014 and they haven’t had a winning season since 2015, even with the likes of Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
“I’m still trying to process it,” Trout said before the Angels played at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. “Looking back, I’ve been here my whole career. Had some great times with Arte. He took care of me, my family. I appreciate all he has done for me. I guess he’s moving on.”
Moreno, a 76-year-old Mexican-American born in Arizona, is the only non-white controlling owner in Major League Baseball. The Angels are the second MLB team currently for sale, joining the Washington Nationals.
Longtime Angels fans were on board with Moreno early in his tenure as the team won five division championships. But the current state of the moribund franchise has hurt attendance and turned off many supporters, who at times have been vocal about wanting Moreno out as owner.
No less than Carew, an 18-time All-Star infielder, expressed pleasure about a possible sale. He starred with the then-California Angels from 1979-1985. He later worked as the team’s hitting coach and is credited with helping develop such Angels stars as Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds and Tim Salmon.
“Well this is happy news,” Carew posted on Twitter. “I have renewed hope that my relationship with the @Angels organization can be fully restored.”
Moreno spent aggressively on aging free agent stars like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, but the club hasn’t been back to the Fall Classic since he became owner.
Los Angeles is set to miss the postseason for the eighth straight year despite featuring AL MVPs Trout and Ohtani. The Angels were 52-70 going into Tuesday night.
“It has been a great honor and privilege to own the Angels for 20 seasons,” Moreno said in a statement. “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’s announcement comes at a critical juncture for the franchise, with Ohtani set to be a free agent after the 2024 season. Ohtani, a two-way sensation who left Japan and joined the Angels in 2018, has made it clear he wants to play for a contending team. If the franchise can’t sign Ohtani to a long-term deal, it may decide to trade him before he has a chance to leave as a free agent.
Trout, a three-time MVP, is signed through the 2030 season on a $426.5 million, 12-year deal. He’s appeared in just three postseason games with the Angels, all in 2014, despite having been the best player in baseball for most of the last decade.
Anthony Rendon, a high-priced free agent signed after helping Washington win the 2019 World Series, had been injured most of his time with the Angels.
Phil Nevin, who took over as interim manager after Joe Maddon was fired in June, praised Moreno.
“He’s been great to me. I’ve known him for longer than I’ve been with the Angels, but he’s been a great owner for this organization and still is. Six division titles in the 20 years,” he said.
“He’s been really good to the community, he really has. Done a lot of great things for this organization. I know this is a tough day for him, a sad day. To be honest, I’m really focused on the game today. It doesn’t change anything we do here. Arte is a great man, and it has been a pleasure to work for him,” he said.
The team has retained Galatioto Sports Partners as financial adviser for the process and said it will not have any additional comment.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports