Angels’ Arte Moreno update means Shohei Ohtani-Dodgers chatter can grow louder

Adam Weinrib
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on June 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on June 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /
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Trouble in paradise? No. Trouble in Anaheim. Those two things are very different. Regardless, it seems the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ big-league neighbor is about to experience yet another bout of turmoil after a surprise announcement Tuesday.

After years of subpar baseball and free-agent whiffs, going far enough on all the wrong names, Angels owner Arte Moreno revealed this week that he intends to sell the team, and the exploration process has begun, as first revealed by Jeff Passan prior to the release of a lengthy statement.

This means, ahead of any speculation about future intentions and cleaning up the environment, that things are about to get chaotic in Anaheim.

Could the next owner of the Angels rededicate the franchise to winning at all costs, exploiting the massive market as he goes and building around Shohei Ohtani? Sure. Maybe. But considering nearly every owner in MLB is focused on the bottom line first and winning eighth or ninth, it seems unlikely that the next Steve Cohen is in line to take over the Dodgers’ little brother franchise.

It’s far more likely that Ohtani decides to test the market in a year — or that ownership forces him to test the market even sooner than that. In other words, Dodgers gentlemen: start your engines ahead of schedule.

Shohei Ohtani has to get out of Anaheim as Arte Moreno sells the team…Dodgers?

Do the Angels want to see Ohtani end up in their backyard wearing the blue-and-white? NO! But do they have any choice, if the Dodgers happen to offer the best package?

Everyone knows Ohtani chose his current region for a reason. His free agency was all about finding an area he was comfortable in. Has he backed down from this wishes in five years’ time, or is Southern California still his preferred home? In that case, the list of destinations is already whittled down. Moreno’s group might as well get on with it before they go and complete the inevitable/get a haul from the Dodgers after the Padres already used their Ohtani haul to acquire Juan Soto.

Outside of the Yankees — a team he eliminated from his free agency chase first and clearly has no intention of joining — where else is Ohtani going to go? The Cardinals had a Soto package at the ready. Is that something you could ever see materializing? The Mariners were a free agency suitor all those years back. Could they do something using every young player not named Julio Rodriguez?

Moreno’s Angels haven’t taken the right step very often — and when they have, like securing Mike Trout long-term or winning the Ohtani sweepstakes, they’ve been rewarded with turmoil or have forgotten to add depth.

It’s possible this new regime eventually gets it right, rededicating themselves to player development and pitching, pitching, pitching.

Odds are, though, that said “new path” gets jumpstarted by speeding up Ohtani’s inevitable in-his-prime departure with a mega-trade, and the Dodgers will be there waiting. Maybe they’ll even include Bobby Miller in their package so he doesn’t have the chance to embarrass Ohtani in intra-squad games.

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