Ownership Uncertainty Creating Unstable Environment For Dodgers
The latest development in the Dodgers' "ownership saga has resulted in more confusion in what already felt like an unstable environment,” according to team officials cited by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. TIMES. Several sources said that they “had no idea how the franchise would be affected in the coming weeks and months” after the news that Owner Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the team. One official said, "We're just following the plan until we're told not to." Hernandez reports McCourt "hasn't informed the baseball operations department of any change in course.” Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said that in the final days of the regular season he “was told by McCourt that the Dodgers' payroll would be similar to what it was this year.” McCourt is “expected to meet with Colletti in the near future.” With a sale process expected to take months to complete, some player agents said that they “didn't expect the Dodgers to be significant players in the free-agent market.” One former high-level MLB exec “recalled being under severe restraints when he worked for a team that was in the middle of the sales process.” The agents for CF Matt Kemp and RF Andre Ethier, who will be free agents after next season, “wondered how the impending sale would influence the team's negotiations with their clients.” Dave Stewart, who represents Kemp, said, "There's a lot of uncertainty, a lot of questions." Ethier's agent, Nez Balelo, said that he “thought he didn't know enough about the situation to speculate how the Dodgers' present situation would affect negotiations with his client” (L.A. TIMES, 11/3). ESPN's Keith Law said the sale of the team will not take place "near soon enough for Ned Colletti to go out and make major, major moves this off-season, which I guess could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you think of Ned Colletti.” ESPN’s Eric Karabell: “They’re probably not going to be in play in spending a lot of money because I don’t expect this to get done this calendar year. It’s going to take time. ... How are you going to buy a baseball team for a billion dollars in a month?” (“Baseball Today,” ESPN.com, 11/2).
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale notes MLB attorneys said that it “likely will take at least two months for the sale process to even start.” MLB “still has the right of final approval, but McCourt has the freedom to sell the club to a group or individual he chooses” (USA TODAY, 11/3). In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes MLB “does not have to accept a particular bidder but has agreed to pre-approve potential buyers.” The league has “agreed to expedite the process by completing all investigations and conducting voting on eligible bidders before an auction,” which means the high bidder “becomes the winning bidder, and McCourt gets his money faster.” McCourt's bankers “have yet to propose their sale plan to the Bankruptcy Court.” However, it “appears more likely that the auction would be held behind closed doors rather than in open court” (L.A. TIMES, 11/3).