The Rangers sale is a "trainwreck"

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That’s the viewpoint of someone associated with the group of creditors meeting with prospective Rangers’ owners Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan in New York tomorrow in an attempt to iron out their differences regarding the team’s sale. It’s an ominous sign with respect to something that everyone is assuming is a done deal.

As you’ll recall, the creditors are led by a hedge fund called Monarch Alternative Capital, which bought up a bunch of Hicks Sports’ Group’s debt when it nearly defaulted on its obligations last summer.  The creditors have to sign off on the tentative agreement between Hicks and Greenberg/Ryan, and from the sound of it, they don’t have a huge incentive to do so.  According to the article:

The key issues, the sources said, are that while the sale has an
announced price of $570M, there is only $390M of cash changing hands,
with the difference assumed liabilities. And of that the banks would
only get $250M, sources said. Before they get paid, according to the
deal, Hicks would be paid for the real estate around the ballpark, MLB
must be paid for loans it forwarded the team, and Rangers investment
bankers, Merrill Lynch and Raine get paid too.

That’s right: Tom Hicks has helped broker a deal in which he personally gets paid before the people from whom his spendthrift ownership group had to borrow in order to make ends meet last year. And of course, Hicks himself is part of the new ownership group too. The result: an angry group of creditors is worried that they’re going to only get pennies on the dollar — “We will be better off in bankruptcy court,” a source says — and may very well tell Greenberg, Ryan and Hicks to go back to the drawing board. If that happens, you have to figure that Jim Crane and Dennis Gilbert, who were reported to have better bids than Greenberg — would come back into play.

In December I reported that there were people around Major League Baseball who were worried about this deal coming together.  Those worries were brushed off at the time.  Based on what we’re hearing today, I have this feeling that they’re back.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.