Fearing a decline in value, Shohei Otani “has a grim future with the sale of his baseball team”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Fearing a decline in value, Shohei Otani “has a grim future with the sale of his baseball team”.

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It looks like it will be anxious days for Ohtani for a while (Image: AP/Afro)

Shohei Ohtani’s agent, Nez Valero, appeared at the stadium before the Rays game on August 24 (Japan time). With an interpreter in tow, Mr. Valero met with Ohtani in the stands with a serious expression on his face. The discussion lasted about 10 minutes.

The shocking news broke a few hours before Valero’s visit to the stadium. Arte Moreno, the owner of the Angels, announced that the team was for sale. Moreno commented as follows: “I’ve been with the Angels for 20 seasons.

It has been a great honor to own the Angels for 20 seasons. It was a difficult decision, but after discussing it with my family, we came to the conclusion that the time was right.

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Moreno, CEO of Outdoor Systems, a company that handles outdoor advertising, purchased the Angels from Walt Disney for about 24.8 billion yen in 2003. Since then, the team has been in the doldrums, not making the playoffs since 2002 and losing seven straight years. Why did Moreno announce the sale at this time?

A corruption case was uncovered. In October 2008, Mr. Moreno purchased the land around Angel Stadium from the city of Anaheim for about 43.2 billion yen in order to develop a hotel and other facilities. However, in May of this year, the mayor of the city was found to be corrupt and the deal was scrapped. The FBI launched an investigation, claiming that the land was paid for to finance his reelection. Depending on developments, Mr. Moreno may also be charged with a crime.

According to Forbes, the value of the Angels’ baseball team is approximately 297 billion yen, more than ten times the value at the time of purchase. The fact that Shohei Ohtani, a superstar player who plays two sports, is a major factor.

This summer, talk of Ohtani moving to the Angels surfaced. In fact, several teams have made offers to the Angels. However, Moreno did not allow him to be released. In retrospect, he may not have wanted to reduce the value of the baseball team with a view to selling it.

Considering the value of the team, it is unclear whether a new owner will immediately come forward to buy the team. According to the local newspaper “Orange County,” it may take one to two years to sell the team. What will happen to Ohtani, who will acquire FA rights next offseason?

Sports journalist Nachi Tomonari, who is well versed in the major leagues, offers his opinion.

Nachi Tomonari, a sports journalist and expert on major league baseball, said, “In the past, there have been cases where new owners have released most of the players in the sale of a team. However, it was a local team with a low value. It takes a lot of money to buy an urban team like the Angels, which is worth a lot of money. The new owners will probably preserve key players, expand the budget, and start acquiring new players. The team will be built around Otani, who is the axis of the pitching and hitting staff.

Whether this approach will work or not remains to be seen. In fact, the Angels have acquired such strong players as Hamilton and Puhols since 2010, but they have not been able to function as a competitive force at all. Because of their reliance on large-scale reinforcements, their development and scouting abilities have also fallen to the bottom of the barrel. Even if the new owner acquires new players, he will not be able to break the team’s slump, and there is a fear that it will be a repeat of the past.

Otani wants to play for a ‘winning team. The new owner will rely on his ample assets to keep Otani. However, I am not sure if staying will be a positive thing for Otani. Otani will have a difficult decision to make.”

The sale of his team was discovered at the end of the season. It is likely that Otani will have to spend more time talking with his agent.

  • Photo AP/Afro

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