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The Dodgers’ goal in bankruptcy: a television rights auction

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The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin has been reading the bankruptcy filings this morning, and notes that Frank McCourt’s apparent end game here is to get the bankruptcy court to auction off the television rights for the Dodgers, thereby providing them with the cash they need to keep going.

The obstacles: the Dodgers’ current deal with Fox forbids them from negotiating with anyone but Fox until November of next year and, or course, the anticipated objections of major league baseball.

As for the former, the bankruptcy court could simply set that provision aside from the Fox deal or, depending on how they feel about things at the moment, Fox could simply waive it and join in an auction.  Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is likely to object to any rights auction, as it, in the normal course, has the power to approve all TV deals.  As we learned in the Rangers’ bankruptcy, however, bankruptcy courts often disagree with Major League Baseball with respect to the powers it truly possesses.

What remains problematic, however, is what would happen even if there is a rights auction like McCourt wants. Under the proposed-but-kiboshed Fox deal, a big chunk of the up-front money was going to Jamie McCourt as a means of settling the divorce case.  It seems unlikely that the bankruptcy judge would even touch that given that it’s the Dodgers who are in front of him and not the McCourts in their personal capacity (and how a judge could agree that $180 million or whatever off the top to the McCourts serves the best interests of the team’s creditors is beyond me).

So, unless I’m missing something, best case scenario for McCourt here is a rights auction that brings a lot of money, at the end of which he still has to fight with Jamie over who really owns the team.  I guess that’s better than nothing, but it’s not exactly where he wants to be either.

Indians sign Brandon Guyer to a two-year extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Brandon Guyer #6 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates Rajai Davis #20 two-run home run during the eighth inning to tie the game 6-6 against the Chicago Cubs in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $5 million contract with a club option for 2019.

The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.

Nice signing.

Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

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The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.