Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the sale of the Dodgers to Guggenheim Baseball Partners was approved this evening in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.
Frank McCourt agreed late last month to sell the Dodgers to a group led by Magic Johnson for a record price of $2.15 billion. The team has operated under court oversight since McCourt filed for bankruptcy last June, but judge Kevin Gross gave his blessing to the reorganization plan.
One of the biggest hurdles was resolved this morning when FOX Sports agreed to withdraw their objection to the sale. FOX, who currently has the team’s television rights, wanted proof that Time Warner Cable was not involved in the new ownership group. The Dodgers’ television contract expires after 2013 and both FOX and Time Warner Cable, among others, are expected to bid. However, FOX received assurances that no deal was in place.
MLB attorney Thomas Lauria also objected by saying that they wanted more information and time to review the deal because a number of the sale’s conditions appeared to be “inconsistent” with MLB rules. However, Gross ultimately sided with the Dodgers’ plan to exit bankruptcy.
Dodgers’ attorney Bruce Bennett told Shaikin following the hearing that he doesn’t think there’s “any realistic possibility” the sale won’t close by the target date of April 30.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.