Arte Moreno wants no part of Major League Baseball's growing tank battalion.
No matter how far out of playoff contention his team might be, the Angels owner couldn't stomach the idea of trading away the bulk of his proven talent for prospects and going into total rebuild mode, even though the strategy worked for baseball's last two World Series winners, the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.
It's not in his DNA, and it never will be.
"The reality is, if I have to do that, then I'd get out," Moreno said Thursday after watching his latest marquee acquisition, Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, throw his first bullpen session of spring training. "I don't think it's fair to the fans."
Moreno's comment probably elicited fist bumps in the MLB Players' Assn. office.
Players and owners have been at odds all winter over who is to blame for the glacially slow-moving free-agent market, the union blaming the rising number of "tanking" teams and baseball blaming agents' misreading of the market.
Several players, including Dodgers All-Stars Justin Turner and Alex Wood and former Angels closer Huston Street, took to Twitter to argue that fans are cheated when teams do not sign free agents because they're not trying to win this season.
The union is upset that the Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates stripped their roster of talented players without investing back into the team. At least eight other teams — the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays — do not appear positioned to win this season.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen even floated the possibility of a players' strike, and agent Brodie Van Wagenen suggested a possible player boycott of spring training.
There is no such strife in Angels camp. Moreno and general manager Billy Eppler spent $178 million during the off-season to add Ohtani, third baseman Zack Cozart and second baseman Ian Kinsler and to extend the contract of left fielder Justin Upton for five years and $106 million.
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Los Angeles Times | Feb 15