Frank McCourt famously leveraged the Dodgers after purchasing them. Indeed, he saddled an asset he bought for $430 million with something like $433 million in debt. We knew that. His defense has always been, however, that the Dodgers are a cash cow and that there are tons of untapped revenue sources available. And that all may be true. But that’s not impressing lenders very much, reports Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
McCourt was turned down at least three times — by Citibank, by a Chinese
investment group and by a Southern California infomercial king — in
trying to secure additional financing last year, according to documents
filed in the divorce case between him and his estranged wife, Jamie.
In a deposition, Dodgers Chief Financial Officer Peter Wilhelm said Citibank declined even to engage in serious negotiations.
“They did not feel that the Dodger organization had the capacity to take on more debt,” Wilhelm said.
Shaikin reports that the debt load “has limited how the Dodgers can pay their players and could affect the team’s ability to sign talent.” Doesn’t seem like there’s any “could” about it, given that another of the story’s quoted sources says that every free penny the team pulls in goes towards debt service.
McCourt has said all along that his divorce hasn’t had a negative impact on the Dodgers baseball operations. Maybe he’s right! It’s been everything about his management style prior to the divorce that was the real culprit.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.