Frank McCourt

The Dodgers file for bankruptcy

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A mere three days before the payroll comes due — payroll that Frank McCourt can’t meet — the Dodgers have filed for bankruptcy, reports Richard Sandomir. With that, the legal game begins.

Obviously the situation is fluid, and more details will stream in as the morning and day progresses, but for the time being, this could buy McCourt some time. Why? because a bankruptcy filing puts a halt on all legal action with respect to the bankruptcy estate (i.e. the Dodgers).  McCourt will certainly argue that this will prevent a takeover from Major League Baseball, though the court may decide differently when it gets a chance to weigh in, likely in the next few days.

The problem for McCourt is that the kind of bankruptcy the Dodgers have certainly filed is designed to reorganize the financial house.  Frank McCourt, however, does not have a plan available to him to do such a thing or else he would have already done it.  The filing isn’t yet circulating (UPDATE: here it is) but my guess is that he’s going to ask the court to order that the Fox TV deal be executed — assuming Fox wants to still do it, which it has been reported it may not — thereby providing funding.

The problem with that, of course, is that the bankruptcy court won’t approve of anything that is not seen as in the best interests of the Dodgers the Dodgers’ creditors,* it’s obvious that Major League Baseball and others would come in and make a strong case that the Fox deal is not the best deal they could make.

If McCourt can do no better, the court may very well order a sale of the team. Perhaps auctioning it off, Texas Rangers-style. Which, by the way, would also put Major League Baseball in the same position it was in with respect to the Rangers: less-able to control who owns the team than it would otherwise be.  Mark Cuban bid on the Rangers, after all. If his or some other non-chosen person’s money looked green to the bankruptcy court in such a scenario, Bud Selig would be hard-pressed to stop them from participating in a team auction.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves. For now, we simply have Frank McCourt where he was inevitably headed: bankruptcy court. And some time has been bought. A little anyway. The end game for McCourt, however, doesn’t look all that better than it did before.

*As always, remember that I am kind of a moron, at least as far as lawyers go, when it comes to bankruptcy. We have a lot of people familiar with bankruptcy law who hang out in the comments, however, so by all means, explore them a bit if the subject interests you. I’ll do my best to update with better information when I screw up.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.