February 29, 2024

Before Shohei Ohtani made his decision last week to sign with the Dodgers, he and his agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, approached the Angels near the end of his free-agent process, giving Ohtani’s old team a chance to convince him to stay in Anaheim.

However, Angels owner Arte Moreno wouldn’t budge. According to multiple people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly, Moreno wouldn’t match the 10-year, $700 million deal that Ohtani eventually signed with the Dodgers.

Not even the late effort from Ohtani’s camp to continue negotiations changed his mind.

The Angels did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Whether Ohtani would have returned to the Angels — even with a comparable offer to what he got from the Dodgers — is not known.

During his introductory press conference at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, the two-time MVP spoke highly of his tenure in Anaheim and said he was sad to leave the club.

At the same time, Ohtani has stated repeatedly throughout his major league career that he wants to contend for playoff appearances and World Series championships. The Dodgers offered a near-guarantee of October baseball. Even with Ohtani and Mike Trout the last six years, the Angels had proven incapable of anything close.

Still, in the latter stages of his free agency this month, it doesn’t appear Ohtani had completely eliminated the Angels from contention. Balelo said he “made sure that I kept in touch with them” throughout the process, and that “we felt that they earned the right to at least have a discussion at the end.”

Evidently, those efforts went nowhere.

Balelo declined to disclose any other specifics about Ohtani’s talks with the Angels, including whether money was the ultimate difference in his decision to leave Anaheim.

“I won’t go there,” he said. “But just know that we had really healthy discussions. The Angels had every opportunity.”

The hold-up was Moreno, who failed to meet what Ohtani’s camp was requesting, according to sources with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly. The exact details of the Angels’ final offer remain unclear.

Ultimately, Ohtani decided on Friday night he would sign with the Dodgers. On Saturday afternoon, he made the announcement official in an Instagram post.

And five days later, as Ohtani was paraded around his new home ballpark covered in blue and white, Balelo offered only consolatory remarks about his client’s old club.

“It’s a place that he really loved to play. He loved the people there, everything. So we didn’t want to miss the idea of giving them an opportunity,” Balelo said “But at the end, it just wasn’t going to work.”

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