The Angels have been in a period of some uncertainty since this past summer, when owner Arte Moreno announced he was exploring a sale of the franchise. There haven’t been many substantive updates on the process since then, and the timing of the potential sale has remained unclear.
At a press conference at this week’s Winter Meetings, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated the Halos are hopeful of having a sale finalized by Opening Day. “The point at which people actually see financial information is an important step forward in the process. My understanding is that the club would like to have the sale resolved before Opening Day,” Manfred told reporters (link via Evan Drellich of the Athletic). “Whether that happens I think depends in part on the bidding process and how quickly you can get documents done.”
Moreno has owned the franchise since 2003, when he purchased it from the Disney corporation on the heels of a World Series win. They’ve not won a pennant in the Moreno era, only making the ALCS once in 2009. Moreno has consistently signed off on payrolls that place the team within the top ten, but he’s drawn a fair bit of criticism among the fanbase for taking an active role in baseball operations decisions.
Precisely how much payroll room Moreno would allot the front office this offseason as he explores sale options was an open question. To his credit, he’s allowed general manager Perry Minasian and company to strike for upgrades to each area of the roster in the early going. The Halos brought in Tyler Anderson and Carlos Estévez via free agency while acquiring Hunter Renfroe and Gio Urshela in trade. None of those acquisitions was over an especially long term, with Anderson’s three-year deal the only commitment beyond 2024. Yet they did add an estimated $40MM to the 2023 payroll on those four players.
The acquisitions bring Anaheim’s 2023 payroll projection up to $198MM, in the estimation of Roster Resource. They’re just above $212MM in projected luxury tax obligations, leaving them around $20MM shy of the $233MM base tax threshold. Minasian told reporters this morning the Halos could conceivably push spending into luxury tax territory, saying there’s no ownership mandate to stay under the threshold (via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register).
Anaheim hasn’t gotten into CBT territory since 2004. Pushing into that realm in 2023 would be unfamiliar for the franchise, but they’re headed into their final season of club control over Shohei Ohtani and amidst an eight-year playoff drought. The Halos still have some uncertainty in the middle infield and behind the plate, and they could look into bullpen upgrades even after inking Estévez to a two-year contract.