The Dodgers sale is being financed by people’s insurance money. Is this a problem?

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Over at the New York Times’ Deal Book blog, Andrew Ross Sorkin notes that the sale of the Dodgers to the group led by Magic Johnson — but really controlled by Guggenheim Partners’ Mark Walter — is being financed with insurance policy dough:

In addition to their own cash, Mr. Walter plans to use money from Guggenheim subsidiaries that are insurance companies — some state-regulated — to pay for a big chunk of his purchase of the Dodgers. Guggenheim controls Guggenheim Life, a life insurer, and Security Benefit, which manages some $30 billion, among others.

Using insurance money — which is typically supposed to be invested in simple, safe assets — to buy a baseball team, the ultimate toy for the ultrarich, seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Sorkin explains that this is especially problematic given what seemed to be a significant overpay for the team and given that Walter has said that he’s not too concerned about immediate profitability. What of the fiduciary duties to the policy holders, he wonders.

While Sorkin seems pretty alarmed by this, he later makes mention of the fact that long-term holdings are not unheard of for insurance-backed investments.  And this is where I think the alarm should stop. Remember: the Dodgers nearly quintupled in value during the McCourt years, despite historic mismanagement by Frank McCourt.

While I appreciate that there is a bubble element to elevating franchise values in any given short period of time, sports teams have proven to be a safer investment than just about anything over the past, well, forever.  It’s like a license to print money.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.