Dodgers leaning toward television deal with Time Warner

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We heard two weeks ago that the Dodgers were “50-50” about whether to keep their television broadcasts on Fox Sports or move them to Time Warner Cable starting in 2014, but it appears they are moving closer to a decision.

While FOX Sports was once considered the heavy favorite, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times hears that the Dodgers are now leaning toward accepting a deal with Time Warner Cable. No final decision has been made, as the club hasn’t reached an agreement with MLB on how the structure of a deal will impact their contribution to revenue sharing.

It’s believed that the Dodgers will sign the largest television contract in baseball history, perhaps as much as $7 billion. The team discussed a new deal with Fox in the fall which was rumored to be worth at least $6 billion over 25 years, but Time Warner jumped in after Fox’s exclusive negotiating window expired.

At issue right now is whether the Dodgers will contribute closer to $1 billion or $2 billion to revenue sharing. Dodgers chairman Mark Walter and MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred discussed the situation at the owners’ meetings in Arizona last week, but it’s not clear whether any progress was made.

 

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.