3 ways a potential Angels sale impacts the Red Sox

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim looks on as owner Arte Moreno talks during a press conference at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on March 24, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim looks on as owner Arte Moreno talks during a press conference at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on March 24, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Arte Moreno is exploring selling the Los Angeles Angels

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Angels ownership group announced that they are considering selling the team after twenty seasons.

Principal owner Arte Moreno called it a “difficult decision” made after “a great deal of thoughtful consideration,” though there’s a lot more to that story.

If Moreno finds a buyer, the Angels will be the third team sold since 2020, following the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets. And over on the east coast, the sale could have some interesting implications for the Boston Red Sox.

Three things to keep an eye on as the Angels go on the market…

1. The Red Sox could pursue Shohei Ohtani

A team sale increases the likelihood that baseball marvel Shohei Ohtani will be traded. He’ll be a free agent after next season, and as a standalone figure in the game, he’ll certainly command a sizeable contract.

Ohtani is laser-focused on winning, and the Sox are the winningest team in this century. They also desperately need pitching and hitting, with several players reaching free agency after this season. Ohtani can do both better than most players can do one or the other.

The Sox actually tried to sign him a decade ago, spending two years scouting him during his high school days, and those close to the situation say that had Ohtani opted to sign with an MLB team, it was down to the Sox or the Los Angeles Dodgers. He even invited the Sox to a private bullpen session, an unheard-of honor at the time.

Unfortunately, MLB’s broken minor-league system worked against them. The Nippon-Ham Fighters drafted him and convinced him not to come to America by telling him all about how difficult it is to be a minor leaguer. Truth hurts.

Aside from paying Rafael Devers, nothing would assure Red Sox Nation that their team is committed to winning like getting Ohtani, who is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. And it only makes sense for the Sox to finally have the modern-day Babe Ruth at Fenway Park. Maybe this time, they won’t sell him to the Yankees.

2. It may keep Red Sox ownership from wanting to sell

Fenway Sports Group’s expansion might be hurting the Sox in the same way that when a family has more children, the firstborn gets less attention from their parents. They’ve got Liverpool FC and the Pittsburgh Penguins now, as well as NESN and several real estate projects. Principal owner John Henry also owns the Boston Globe.

However, the fact that FSG is buying up so much property around the ballpark indicates that they’re digging in, not trying to get out. It wouldn’t make sense for them to invest so much in the surrounding area if they want to extricate themselves from team ownership.

Regardless, the inevitable chaos of the Angels getting sold might steer them clear for good.

One of the key reasons Moreno is exploring selling the team is that Anaheim’s city council unanimously blocked him from purchasing the massive Angel Stadium property, in part due to an FBI investigation into the city’s former mayor, Harry Sidhu for corruption relating to the sale of the stadium. Moreno planned to replicate the success other franchises are seeing by purchasing and developing the land around their ballparks, adding retail, dining, commercial, and even housing options, all with the appeal of being as close to the action as possible. But instead of battling it out with the city of Anaheim, Moreno is picking up his marbles and leaving the contest altogether.

FSG is dealing with no such drama, but hopefully, watching the Angels’ situation play out will be enough to deter them from thinking about selling the team to a Dolan or Wilpon-esque owner, wholly uncommitted to winning. But as long as the Sox don’t go full Oakland/Tampa on the Sox roster this winter and re-commit to winning, there’s no way they sell the golden goose.

3. The chaos of an Angels sale might make Sox fans appreciate their own situation more

Did you know that John Henry originally almost bought the Angels, not the Sox?

In the 1990s, Henry made several bids to lead expansion teams and purchase existing franchises, including the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Colorado Rockies. His first stake in an MLB team was actually a minority interest in the Yankees in 1991.

By 1999, Henry was the sole owner of the Florida Marlins, no pun intended. MLB wanted to eliminate the Montreal Expos, and a plan came together. Henry would purchase a bigger franchise and sell the Marlins to Expos owner Jeffrey Loria so that MLB could shutter the team.

Henry set his sights on the Angels, but the Walt Disney Corporation’s asking price was too high. According to former Marlins president (and Loria’s stepson) David Samson, they wanted $500M for the Angels. So, Henry pivoted to buying the Red Sox, and his ownership group paid $700M for the historic franchise, more than double the cost of any team sale in league history at the time. Moreno went on to buy the Angels for a mere $184M in 2003.

In the last two decades, there’s no denying that Henry & Co. have done significantly more to invest in their team than Moreno did. In addition to countless millions on renovations to preserve and improve Fenway Park, they allowed their front offices to build several postseason teams, including four championship squads. The Angels have fielded some of the best talents in MLB history in Ohtani, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols, but haven’t reached the postseason since 2014, and haven’t had a winning season since the year after. Their only championship in franchise history came in 2002, the year before Moreno bought the club.

Sox fans are used to winning now. Four championships in fifteen years create expectations not seen since the Bambino wore this uniform over a century ago. But it’s worth pointing out how many other franchises around the league haven’t experienced even a quarter of the success Boston has seen under this ownership group.

There’s no denying that FSG’s expansion into other teams and real estate ventures is pulling focus from the Sox and that this season has been beyond frustration, but count your blessings, Red Sox Nation. Most MLB teams and their fans, Angels included, have it way worse.