Arte Moreno isn’t selling the Los Angeles Angels, after all. Five months after announcing that he’d be looking for buyers — and throwing the Shohei Ohtani rumor mill into overdrive — the AL West club’s owner announced on Monday that he’s retaining his stake and not going anywhere for the time being.
It naturally casts a new dimension of questions into the prospect of Ohtani’s future and one that the Mets might be keeping a particular eye on.
The 28-year-old ace and slugging unicorn is a free agent after the 2023 season in which he signed a one-year, $30 million pact with Moreno, who reportedly intended the Angels’ next owner to then handle Ohtani’s future (h/t Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times).
Moreno certainly has a track record of doling out massive contracts in an attempt to better his team, signing superstar center fielder Mike Trout to an MLB-record $426.5 million deal in 2019. Ohtani’s new deal could potentially surpass that with an average annual value of as much as $50 million.
The issue with Moreno and the Angels, though, is that all that money has not translated to success. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2009 and haven’t touched postseason grass since 2014.
It seems that Ohtani wants to win more than anything as he voiced his displeasure with how things finished last season for an Angels team that went 73-89 (h/t Koji Ueda, Associated Press).
“Talking to Shohei and playing with him the past couple years, there’s nothing more he wants to do than win,” Trout told Chris Russo on MLB Network’s ‘High Heat’ on Monday. “He hates losing, he hates going home early… We have to put a big year together and hopefully keep him here.”
Given Moreno’s inability to build a winner, though, another down season in Los Angeles would likely mean Ohtani bolts for greener pastures — and that’s where the Mets could potentially come in.
Mets GM Billy Eppler was the man who signed Ohtani to his deal with the Angels, allowing him to make the jump from Japan to the United States. He even reportedly checked in on Ohtani’s availability with the Angels last season.
There’s no question that the Mets could offer the kind of money that Ohtani would be looking for and coming off a 101-win season in 2022. After all, owner Steve Cohen spent half a billion dollars in just a few weeks between November and December.
Even after losing out on Carlos Correa, they also appear to have a higher competitive ceiling than the Angels — and Ohtani could be that last big bat that Cohen was hoping for to put the Mets over the top.