The Rangers sale is getting uglier

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The basic dynamic of the sale of the Texas Rangers has been (1) Tom Hicks trying to settle his issues with his creditors; (2) Chuck Greenberg and Major League Baseball getting increasingly annoyed at Hicks for not doing so; and (3) everyone speaking optimistically all the same.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram, Tom Hicks has changed the dynamic, at least rhetorically-speaking:

“This will be resolved one way or the other,” Hicks said. “I’m
concerned about it. We’ve received information that as things stand it
will not be approved.”

Hicks distanced himself from responsibility for getting the deal
done, saying it’s up to Greenberg and Major League Baseball to find a
way to satisfy the lenders who are holding out. Monarch Alternative
Capital is leading the holdouts.

I’m sure that’s all news to Greenberg and Major League Baseball who (a) didn’t run up the big debt in the first place; and (b) aren’t the ones insisting that Hicks realize tens of millions of dollars free-and-clear from the deal despite the fact that he owes money to people all over the world.  For Major League Baseball’s part, it issued a statement last night that, while it could be construed as a warning to the creditors, calls out Tom Hicks by name:

“As part of the Texas Rangers sale process, Tom Hicks selected the
Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group as the chosen bidder on December 15,
2009 and entered into an exclusive agreement with that group. Major
League Baseball is currently in control of the sale process and will use
all efforts to achieve a closing with the chosen bidder. Any deviation
from or interference with the agreed upon sale process by Mr. Hicks or
any other party, or any actions in violation of MLB rules or directives
will be dealt with appropriately by the Commissioner.”

That “deviation” is likely referring to Hicks’ deviation from being the one responsible for making the creditor problems go away.  A responsibility which he’s now apparently punting.

But this is not really a surprise. The level of Hicks’ irresponsibility with respect to the Texas Rangers over the years has been astounding.  He has crippled the franchise with bad contracts and debt and now, just as a new ownership group is poised to invest in the team and to try and make it a winner, he’s all but sabotaging the sale with his intransigence, his insolvency or both.

Oh, and his delusions too. I mean, this is the guy who thinks he’s going to get a billion and a quarter dollars for his debt-laden soccer team despite all indications that such estimates are inflated. There’s no telling what he thinks is going to happen with the Rangers sale.

Two weeks ago the parties pointed to this week — the week of April 19th — as when they think the deal would be closed. With Hicks pointing fingers like he is, apparently unconcerned that a few dozen creditors want to take the team into bankruptcy, I don’t think anyone will be making more predictions on this score anytime soon.

Minor League Baseball established a political action committee to fight paying players more

DURHAM, NC - JULY 28:  The Chicago White Sox play the Most Valuable Prospects during the championship game of the 2011 Breakthrough Series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on July 28, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  Most Valuable Prospects won 17-2 over the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
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Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.

You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.

The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.

So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.

Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”

Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.

Report: White Sox, Nationals making “strong progress” on a Chris Sale deal

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox deliivers the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.

Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.