Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno, speaking to the New York Post from the MLB owners meetings Wednesday in Palm Beach, Florida, said he hopes to keep Shohei Ohtani as the two-way superstar heads into his final season under contract.
Ohtani will make $30 million this season under his final year of team control. Angels fans are clamoring for their team to sign the 2021 American League MVP to a long-term deal at any price, while fans from Boston to San Diego are salivating at the prospect of adding who some consider the majors' greatest two-way player.
"I'd like to keep Ohtani," Moreno told The Post. "He's one of a kind, he's a great person. 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."
Speculation about the Angels' chances of signing Ohtani has fluctuated wildly since they completed their seventh consecutive losing season and eighth consecutive non-playoff season -- both the worst droughts in the majors.
At 28 and heading into his sixth big league season, Ohtani has made it clear he wants to play for a winner, and the Angels have not been winners since the middle of the previous decade.
"We have to win, we have to do a better job on the field," said Moreno, who explored a sale of the Angels throughout the winter before deciding last month that he will keep the team.
Moreno pushed the payroll to record numbers this offseason, allowing general manager Perry Minasian to spend on a number of veteran players -- both via trade and free agency -- who would help deepen the roster while in pursuit of a postseason berth. The Angels also decided against trading Ohtani going into his free agent year, maintaining at least an outside chance of extending him.
Speaking to reporters last week, Minasian deftly avoided any definitive statements about the Angels' chances of keeping Ohtani beyond this summer.
On Wednesday, Moreno declined to offer specifics on where the Angels stood in possible negotiations with Ohtani, who finished second in last season's AL MVP vote after going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA while also batting .273 with 34 homers and 95 RBIs.
But Moreno but did tell The Post, "I'd like to say we have as good a chance as anybody."
Information from ESPN's Alden Gonzalez and The Associated Press was included in this report.