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Arte Moreno Discusses Ohtani, Luxury Tax, Angels Stadium, Ownership

Arte Moreno Discusses Spending, Offseason Moves, Ohtani, Decision To Keep Angels

In the wake of Arte Moreno’s decision to abandon plans to sell the Angels, the owner has been somewhat uncharacteristically willing to discuss team matters with the media.  Moreno has already spoken with the New York Post’s Jon Heyman in February and Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci over the last month, and today the Halos owner engaged in his first open Q-and-A with Angels beat writers (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register and The Athletic’s Sam Blum) in over three years.

Today’s media session covered some of the same ground as the Heyman and Verducci interviews, though Moreno did confirm that the team is willing to exceed the luxury tax in order to keep Shohei Ohtani in the fold.  The two-way superstar is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2023 season, and with speculation swirling that Ohtani could command as much as $500MM in his next contract, going beyond the tax threshold would seem like almost a necessity for any team serious about retaining his services.

Since Moreno bought the team almost exactly 20 years ago, the Angels have only once (in 2004) surpassed the Competitive Balance Tax limit.  That said, Anaheim has also spent big to extend or sign the likes of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, Anthony Rendon, and several other marquee names, so Moreno is no stranger to paying for premium talent.

The Angels are projected for roughly a $226.7MM tax figure in 2023, under the $233MM CBT threshold.  Moreno was non-committal about the idea of exceeding the tax this season, but said that “if we’re in it at the [All-Star] break, I want to be able to have enough cash to pick up somebody.”  In terms of future CBT commitments, Moreno felt “we really positioned ourselves well” to potentially retain Ohtani, and Moreno noted that “after four [remaining] years for Rendon, we really have no long-term contracts.  So we have to position ourselves and work to put ourselves in a position to have that financial flexibility.”

Having Trout, Rendon, and Ohtani all on the books through the 2026 season (when Rendon’s deal is up) would mean that those three players in all likelihood take up at least half of the Angels’ room under the tax threshold.  That seems to be a bridge Moreno is willing to cross, though quite a bit of work seemingly has to be done before an Ohtani extension becomes a reality.  Moreno said the team hasn’t yet spoken with Ohtani and his camp about future plans, and the owner…

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