Moreno on lease talks, Angels budget, Hamilton, etc. …

Arte Moreno said the Angels and the City of Anaheim are currently “nowhere” with regards to stadium talks.

Back in late September, the Angels, frustrated by a lack of progress more than a year after both sides ratified an agreement, ended talks with the city regarding a new lease for their 48-year-old ballpark. Moreno, speaking to reporters during the Angels’ first workout of Spring Training, said the team and the city have not spoken since “long before that” and currently have no intentions to restart negotiations.

The Angels, who feel their ballpark is in need of a significant foundational overhaul, can walk away from their stadium lease as early as 2016 and as late as 2019. If not, they stay until 2029. Moreno would not comment on talks with other cities, but did say he has no interest in allowing the NFL to use Angel Stadium as a temporary home for a team that moves to California.

In terms of the budget, Moreno said he isn’t necessarily opposed to exceeding the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million — as has been widely reported — but doesn’t want to put himself in a situation where he’s continually exceeding it and paying a heavier tax. The Angels’ operating budget is somewhere in the $150- to $160-million range, Moreno said, adding that the team has about $10 to $15 million to spend on potential upgrades this season.

Moreno revealed that he “took a peek” at free-agent starter James Shields this offseason, but never made a formal offer. The Angels only wanted to go three years, and Shields signed a four-year, $75 million deal with the Padres.

As for the Angels’ own big expenditure, Josh Hamilton?

“Interesting,” Moreno said, smiling, when asked to describe the five-time All-Star’s tenure with the Angels so far.

Still, the 13th-year owner is upbeat about the Angels’ chances this season after a relatively quiet offseason.

“I hated to see Howie [Kendrick] go, but we felt like we needed to start moving towards younger pitching,” Moreno said. “The numbers on those free agents were pretty big.”

Asked how he feels about the team, Moreno said what he says every year: “Ask me in October.”



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