Michele Steele of Bloomberg Television reports that, according to some people in the company, Fox is interested in bidding on the Dodgers when they’re auctioned off in bankruptcy.
As Steele later tweeted, this would simply be about the costs of programming, not about actually, you know, wanting to buy a baseball team. She notes that the network could spend as much as $3 billion over 17 years for the TV rights to the Dodgers, as bid against other potential competitors for those rights. But if they bought the team they could spend somewhere between $800 million and $1 billion now for the team and guarantee themselves the TV rights. Not for free, of course — media right holders who also own the team have always paid themselves something for the privilege of broadcasting — but it’s a way lower number than the network would have to pay by itself, bidding against other networks.
For those of you who can’t remember life before Frank McCourt, Fox was the previous owner of the Dodgers. And one of the biggest reasons they sold the team in 2004 is that they are a broadcasting company, not a sports management company, so they lost money on the team. Which they only really had for the broadcast rights anyway. Sound familiar?
Yes, the world of team-owned media outlets (or media-owned team content providers) has grown far more sophisticated in the past several years and, yes, it’s possible that Fox would take a totally different tack if they were to take over the Dodgers again. But really, should they even be given the chance? Their bailing on the team last time gave us Frank McCourt to begin with.
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.