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.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.