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Moreno dismisses Ohtani trade talk: How do you replace him?

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Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno employs perhaps the most unique athlete on earth in Shohei Ohtani, and he's not going to let go of him easily.

Moreno, who recently took the Angels off the market after trying to sell the team, doesn't seem to have any appetite for considering an Ohtani trade before the superstar reaches free agency next fall. Though there were rumblings of Ohtani's availability at last summer's trade deadline, the 76-year-old billionaire said he can't envision how he'd get fair value in return for his two-way superstar.

"It's true we could have traded him. But how do you get (back) a major-league starting pitcher and Cy Young candidate and, obviously, an MVP type?" Moreno told Jon Heyman of the New York Post. "How do you trade for that? You can't."

The Angels reportedly listened to bidders for Ohtani in late July, and at least one team - the New York Yankees - was said to have made a serious offer. Ohtani ultimately finished his 2022 season as the AL MVP runner-up and fourth in AL Cy Young voting, albeit on an 89-loss club.

Ohtani and the Angels avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $30-million contract for 2023, the largest contract and raise ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, per Cot's Contracts. That deal will take him into free agency when he'll almost surely command one of the biggest deals in sports history on the open market.

There'll be no shortage of interest next winter, with the Yankees, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers among those expected to bid for Ohtani's services. However, it's unclear where the Angels stand in these sweepstakes given their recent ownership turmoil and lack of on-field success during his tenure. An Angels spokesperson told Heyman that the team is "in constant communication with the agent on various matters as it relates to Shohei Ohtani."

Even if his odds might be long, Moreno is refusing to be counted out in these sweepstakes.

"I'd like to keep Ohtani," Moreno said. "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."

He added: "I'd like to say we have as good a chance as anybody."

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