The McCourts go to court

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For those of you who think that tooth-and-nail competition ended with Victorino’s groundout last night, you couldn’t be more wrong. The McCourts will have the first of what are sure to be many offseason hearings in there divorce battle cum power struggle later today, and unlike some of the stuff that will come later, this one involves the Dodgers pretty prominently.

The absolute go-to website for all of this stuff is Josh Fisher’s Dodger Divorce blog, where he has all of the details as to what will be argued and what will be at stake in today’s hearing and beyond.

While I appreciate that some of you may not care to pay attention to this due to the tawdry and salacious nature of some of the proceedings thus far, there is a larger baseball point to all of it: two highly-leveraged people are fighting over ownership of one of baseball’s marquee teams. The outcome of that battle will almost certainly have a profound impact on the Dodgers’ competitive situation going forward, as well as financial implications for baseball as a whole.

Why? Because if Jamie McCourt wins, and convinces the court that she’s a co-owner, the Dodgers will almost certainly have to be sold in the divorce. At the very least, they will have to be leveraged even more than they already are, thereby choking off cash from the team.  What’s more, such a sale would probably occur under distress conditions — there would be a time frame placed on it — thereby lowering the franchise’s market value. Appreciation in franchise market value, by the way, is the single biggest reason anyone buys a baseball team. If that is negatively impacted, owners will start to behave very differently. Probably by cutting payroll and trying to make their teams a better investment from a cashflow perspective as opposed to merely an arbitrage opportunity.  In short, this is a big deal.

So come for the wild accusations, but stay for the gravitas. Either way, we plan to keep you apprised of all of the happenings in L’affaire McCourt.

Cubs sign Brett Anderson to a $3.5 million deal

Brett Anderson
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.

Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.

When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.