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Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno recently spoke publicly about Shohei Ohtani, with some encouraging words for the team’s fans.
Moreno’s been through quite the offseason already, announcing a few months ago that he’d be selling the team.
READ: LOS ANGELES ANGELS OWNER ARTE MORENO EXPLORING SALE OF TEAM
But then he changed his mind, deciding to stay in Anaheim, much to the chagrin of many Angels fans.
Besides fixing the team’s long playoff drought, Moreno’s top priority has to be retaining Shohei Ohtani.
And based on his remarks, it seems he realizes just how important and difficult that task might be.
Moreno spoke to the New York Post about Ohtani and what he means to the organization.
“I’d like to keep Ohtani. He’s one of a kind, He’s a great person.” Moreno continued, “He’s obviously one of the most popular baseball players in the world, and he’s an international star. He’s a great teammate. He works hard. He’s a funny guy, and he has a really good rapport with fans.”
Given that he’s already signed a record deal for 2023, the financial commitment required to sign him longer could be astronomical.
Despite that, Moreno seemed relatively optimistic they could meet the asking price. “Economically we’re usually in the top 10, so it’s not out of the question,” he explained. “I’d like to say we have as good a chance as anybody.”
Rivals Not Confident Ohtani Stays
Despite Moreno’s relative confidence, other teams are not nearly as optimistic.
Jon Heyman reported that other teams view an extension as “impossible.”
Many have pegged a potential deal at around $500 million or more, depending on how many teams join the bidding.
Obviously that’s a tremendous amount of money for any franchise to commit to one player. But Ohtani provides exceptional on field value, as well as tremendous off field promotional opportunities.
The Angels play in a massive television market and have a large fanbase capable of supporting a winning team. And Moreno knows that Ohtani’s a key part of building a sustainable competitor.
That said, free agents of Ohtani’s caliber who’ve played their entire MLB career with one organization often mean more to the “home” team than to others. Aaron Judge to the Yankees, for example.
But Ohtani is so transcendently talented that he’d mean as much to the Mets, Dodgers or Padres as he does to the Angels.
That makes a potential extension feel virtually impossible. Yet if Moreno’s comments are to be believed, that’s exactly what he’s going to try and do.