Angels owner Arte Moreno admits he was too cheap to trade Shohei Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno continues to prove that he is the problem.

Dec 9, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels player Shohei Ohtani (17) is introduced as the
Dec 9, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels player Shohei Ohtani (17) is introduced as the / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

At last season's trade deadline, the Los Angeles Angels had a difficult decision to make. They were having one of their best seasons in recent memory, going 56-51 and sitting just three games back of a playoff spot on deadline day, but had the soon-to-be two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani on his final year of team control.

The Angels could've traded Ohtani to ensure they got an enormous haul in return in their last chance to do so, or they could've pushed for a run to the postseason and risked losing him for nothing. The former was the safer bet, especially with the Angels needing to jump several teams to make the playoffs, but Moreno, unsurprisingly, chose the latter, setting his franchise up for catastrophe.

The Angels traded some of their few good prospects to acquire players like Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Randal Grichuk, and C.J. Cron. Immediately after the deadline, they lost seven straight games, many in excruciating fashion, and did not play a single meaningful game down the stretch.

Holding onto Ohtani made some sense at the time, but in hindsight looks like one of the worst decisions in MLB history. The Angels watched Shohei sign with their crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and are staring directly at a ninth straight losing season and a tenth straight season with no postseason baseball. With one of the worst farm systems in the league, things might continue to get worse before they get better. Arte Moreno is the reason why all of this went down. He said so himself.

Arte Moreno made inconceivable decision to prioritize short-term profits over long-term success of the Angels franchise

“From a fan perspective, they pay for tickets and watch the games and listen to the games, this is a special guy,” Moreno said. “I’d like to see him play. We’re in the entertainment business. We made a decision, a group decision, that the best thing was to keep him and make a run.”

The last sentence makes some sense. If the Angels truly believed that the best decision for their franchise was to keep Shohei around and make a run at a postseason spot, that's fine. The problem is, the first part of what Moreno said makes it seem like they did not believe that in the slightest.

He's right. If the Angels traded Shohei Ohtani, there's a good chance attendance would've taken a hit. He was the reason they were over .500 to begin with, and is baseball's most attractive star by far. The Angels were in the top half of the league in attendance for the 2023 season, and that's with Shohei missing most of the final month of the year due to injury. While that's important to point out, two months of attendance should not be more important for an owner than the long-term stability of the franchise.

Had the Angels traded Ohtani at the deadline they would've gotten a haul back. It's anyone's best guess as to whether top Rays prospect Junior Caminero was actually available for half a season of Ohtani, but the Angels could've gotten a ton in exchange for him. I mean, look at what they gave up for half a season of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Edgar Quero was a top-100 prospect at the time, and Ky Bush was their number-two prospect.

To make matters worse, Moreno had no intention of actually keeping Ohtani in an Angels uniform long-term, confirming that he was unwilling to meet his asking price that eventually got him in a Dodgers jersey. If Moreno was willing to keep Ohtani, shouldn't he have expected the bidding for his services to get at the very least close to where they ended up?

It's become abundantly clear that the Angels will go nowhere as long as Arte Moreno is involved. He refuses to enter a rebuild, yet is planning on lowering his team's payroll, giving them virtually no shot at competing in a really tough AL West.

Angels fans came so close to freedom when Moreno put the team on the market at the end of the 2022 season, but he opted to take the team off the market and retain control. With Moreno confirming that he's in it for the long term, Angels fans are in for more years of suffering.