Fox Sports have long been considered the favorites to work out the oft-mentioned mega TV deal with the Dodgers, but Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times hears that an agreement between the two sides is no longer a slam dunk.
Whether the Dodgers keep their television broadcasts on Fox Sports or move them to Time Warner Cable appears to be a “50-50” proposition, according to a person familiar with the team’s TV negotiations but not authorized to discuss them.
The Dodgers remain in discussions with Fox and TWC, according to two people familiar with the talks. The Fox exclusive negotiating period expired five weeks ago.
At the time, the Dodgers and Fox were negotiating a deal that could have been worth at least $6 billion over 25 years. However, no deal has been finalized, in part because the Dodgers prefer to avoid a U.S. Bankruptcy Court showdown with Major League Baseball over the structure of the deal.
In the interim, the Dodgers appear increasingly intrigued with the wide latitude TWC might be able to provide for all-day programming — for the team, and perhaps for other entertainment assets of Guggenheim Partners. Mark Walter, the Dodgers’ controlling owner, is chief executive of Guggenheim Partners, which controls Dick Clark Productions.
In a nutshell, there’s disagreement over whether the Dodgers will end up contributing either around $1 billion or $2 billion to MLB’s revenue sharing program, so they are looking at alternative ways to structure a deal that will allow them to keep as much money as possible while making MLB (and the court) happy. As Craig pointed out last month, the difference between these two figures represent more than most teams get for their entire television deal. Some world they are living in.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Dodgers have acquired catcher Carlos Ruiz and cash from the Phillies in exchange for catcher A.J. Ellis, minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans, and a player to be named later. It was reported on Wednesday that Ruiz and first baseman Ryan Howard both cleared waivers and that Ruiz was drawing interest from a couple of teams.
Ruiz, 37, has served as the backup catcher behind Cameron Rupp. Over 193 plate appearances, he hit .261/.368/.352. He continued to play solid defense and has always had a reputation for handling his pitchers very well. In fact, in a commercial for the video game MLB 2k11, former Phillie Roy Halladay essentially professed his love for Ruiz:
Ellis, 35, is a free agent after the season while Ruiz has a club option for the 2017 season worth $4.5 million. It seems likely that the Dodgers pick up that option and make Ruiz Grandal’s backup next year. Ellis hit a lousy .194/.285/.252 in 161 plate appearances, but the Phillies aren’t particularly concerned with his production since they’re still facilitating their rebuilding process.
Bergjans, 23, has spent the season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’s posted a 4.98 ERA with a 133/29 K/BB ratio in 130 innings spanning 21 starts and three relief appearances. He went to school in Haverford, PA so the Phillies are bringing in a local guy.
Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista has been activated from the 15-day disabled list ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Angels, the club announced. Utilityman Ryan Goins has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to create room on the roster.
Bautista missed the minimum 15 days due to a sprained left knee. He’s battled injuries throughout the season, limiting him to just 355 plate appearances over 80 games. He’ll resume play with a .222/.349/.444 triple-slash line, 15 home runs, and 48 RBI.
Bautista is in Thursday night’s starting lineup, batting first and serving as the DH.