McCourt, MLB talking settlement, sale of team

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Yesterday we learned that the Dodgers trial set for Monday has been postponed for a month. Today Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times reports why that is:

The Dodgers’ bankruptcy trial has been postponed for one month so Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball can explore a possible settlement under which McCourt would agree to sell the team, multiple people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

This would be pretty huge. But as Shaikin notes, it may not go anywhere. The problem is that McCourt is so deeply in debt that he may not break even unless the team sells for $1 billion. And Major League Baseball is not at all interested in subsidizing McCourt and/or guaranteeing some minimum price for the team.  If McCourt thinks he can’t get that kind of return — and it seems pretty high in this environment — he may think it better to just hunker down, fight and try to keep the team until it can appreciate more.

But talks, even troubled ones, are better than nothing. And for the first time we have a suggestion that, yes, Frank McCourt would be willing to walk away if it made sense to do so. And that’s the most hope we’ve had about anything in this sordid affair for a long time.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.