My first reaction to yesterday’s news that Bill Burke and Chinese investors were offering Frank McCourt $1.2 billion for the Dodgers was that Major League Baseball would be jumping for joy. It’s probably a good rule, however, to never be content to settle on your first reaction, because stuff that involves billions of dollars is usually a lot more complicated than that.
And, as Steve Dilbeck reports in the L.A. Times, this could be a lot more complicated than that. MLB executives are skeptical of the bid. And, as Dilbeck’s post establishes, there are some good reasons for skepticism. Not to put too fine a point on it, but McCourt’s interests would be served quite conveniently by having an offer like this out there separate and apart from actually selling the team to the folks making this offer.
How? Well, for starters, McCourt has been looking for minority investors to help him out of his jam. If there was an offer like this on the table, McCourt could easily point to it and say “Hey, look how valuable this team is! If you want in, it’s gonna cost you more.” Moreover, as the matter of his mismanagement of the Dodgers sits before the bankruptcy court, he could likewise point to this offer and say “if I’m such a bad steward of this team, why are people willing to give me billions for it!”
Throw in the fact that McCourt has had past business dealings with the Chinese — who are reportedly underwriting the majority of this bid — and it’s enough to at least make you raise an eyebrow about the seriousness of the offer.