Former agent Jeff Moorad agreed to purchase the Padres from John Moores several years ago. The sale was to be in phases, with Moores maintaining control of the team until Moorad’s stake grew to where he would eventually be approved as the controlling party in the eyes of MLB.
Back in January, however, the owners delayed a vote on Moorad’s application, angering Moores and Moorad. There was no official explanation, but some reports suggested that Major League Baseball was concerned about the financial viability of Mooard’s ownership group. Specifically, his minority owners.
Today, Bud Selig released this statement:
“I have spoken with San Diego Padres Chairman John Moores and Vice Chairman/CEO Jeff Moorad. They have informed me that Jeff is withdrawing his control transfer application of the Padres at this time in order to focus on completing the club’s local television contract. I am pleased that John and Jeff are working on ensuring that the club’s games will be televised this season and beyond, and I know that they are acting in the best interests of Baseball, the franchise and the great fans of San Diego.”
Smells like a cover story. For one thing, most reports had that TV deal being done, so what the heck is Moorad needed for in that capacity? But more generally, it sounds like the league was going to continue to give Mooard’s application grief, and that this is a nice way for him to bow out without being formally rejected.
What to make of this? Well, if this is really a case of the league being skeptical of the finances of Mooard’s group, I suppose it’s a good thing insofar as it could signal the end of the era in which guys like, oh, Frank McCourt are allowed to buy in even if they don’t have the dough to do it. It would be frustrating, sure, because the league has had years to consider Moorad’s bid, but if it’s about finances, it’s defensible.
The cynical part of me wonders if something else is going on. If Moorad’s history as a super agent — and thus, by definition, a former adversary of several of the guys who still own major league teams — played a part. Could they be that petty and not be willing to give the benefit of the doubt to a guy who used to be on the other side in the old, warring labor days? We’ll probably never know for sure. Baseball keeps this business close to the vest.
All we do know is that, as of now, we can add the Padres to the growing list of major league teams with some sort of strife in terms of ownership and future.