Magic Johnson’s group among seven bidders still in running for Dodgers

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Magic Johnson-Stan Kasten group is among seven bidders left in the running to buy the Dodgers.

The field was whittled down to nine after the groups headlined by Peter O’Malley and Joe Torre dropped out over the past week. The groups led by Memphis Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley and Tony Rossler, a minority investor in the Brewers, were eliminated today.

The remaining bidders include groups led by Johnson and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten; Connecticut investment king Steven Cohen and longtime Los Angeles agent Arn Tellem; Stanley Gold and the family of the late Roy Disney; and New York media executive Leo Hindery in partnership with Tom Barrack, chairman of Santa Monica-based Colony Capital.

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Beverly Hills-based real estate developer Alan Casden and Jared Kushner, owner and publisher of the New York Observer and son-in-law of Donald Trump, also remain in contention.

The seven remaining groups will now advance to a review process by MLB, which includes voting by two committees of owners. MLB is expected to inform outgoing owner Frank McCourt which bidders have advanced by mid-to-late March. McCourt will then hold one more round of bidding before identifying a winner by April 1. He is required to close the sale by April 30.

Shaikin notes that the Dodgers are expected to sell for more than $1.5 billion, which would establish a new record sale price for an American sports franchise.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.