As I type this, a big hearing is going down in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy case. It’s the one in which — or after which — it will be decided who gets to bankroll the Dodgers’ operations during the pendency of the case. Frank McCourt and the $150 million loan he has obtained or Major League Baseball and the $150 million — and possibly more in the future — it has offered to extend to the Dodgers.
As we’ve noted several times, on purely financial terms MLB’s financing is better. Lower interest and no up-front fees like that McCourt would have to pay for his proposed financing. And that matters, because the more money lost to such costs, the less available to creditors of the bankrupt Dodgers (and the interest of the creditors is the primary interest being served in bankruptcy).
Over the past few weeks McCourt has been trying to compensate for these differences by arguing that MLB’s financing is part of a plot by Bud Selig — who he called “the devil” in a filing earlier this week — to shove McCourt aside as the team’s owner. Meanwhile, the creditors and the trustee representing them have asked the judge not to approve McCourt’s financing. It’s been a pretty ugly little battle. (UPDATE: right after I wrote this, the creditors withdrew their objections, noting that McCourt’s financier has lowered the interest rate a point).
But it likely won’t be resolved by a simple decision from the judge, approving one loan and rejecting the other. As Bill Shaikin notes in a very useful primer of today’s hearing, the judge could ask for modifications to either side or go in a totally different direction if he wants.
What is clear, however, is that if one side’s financing is clearly favored, that side will have a much greater hand in steering the future course of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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.