UPDATE: Ryan-Greenberg group wins ownership of Rangers

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1:51 AM:  Just a quick update here.  As Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported just moments ago, the group led by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg won the auction.  They out-lasted several massive over-bids by Mark Cuban and stepped up with a $385 million cash offer early Thursday morning.  Great stuff by Andro and Co.

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4:05 PM:  Daniel Kaplan of SBJ reports that the review of the initial bids in the Texas Rangers auction is finally over (they’ve been in court all day) and get this: Mark Cuban and Jim Crane have “the highest and best bid” by $25 million.

Per some complicated legal business this morning, the Greenberg-Ryan group will now get some time — maybe some hours, maybe until tomorrow — to come back and top that bid. And they have to do it by $2 million to stay in the game.

That is, if they don’t make up their own rules. Minutes after the bidding was announced, Greenberg and Ryan’s lawyers (a) asked for more time; and (b) said that they’d attempt to block Cuban and Crane’s bid from being accepted via appeal and maybe some other legal action.  So that’s nice.  There’s also the distinct possibility — again, per Greenberg’s lawyer — that Major League Baseball may take up to nine months to approve Cuban and Crane as owners, which they argue would practically lower the real value of Cuban and Crane’s bid.

There will obviously be tons of twists and turns in the next few hours, let alone the next few weeks, so this doesn’t mean that Cuban and Crane will wind up owning the team.  But it does mean that for them not to it will mean that either Greenberg and Ryan will (a) have to come up with a ton more money; or (b) convince Major League Baseball and/or a court of law that the most valuable offer for the Texas Rangers should not actually get the team.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.