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.

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.