Padres chairman John Moores will spin the front-office carousel yet again Thursday when the club expects to announce that Jeff Moorad will take over as CEO, with Sandy Alderson stepping down from that position. What makes Moorad’s arrival different from that of the other four CEOs or presidents hired by Moores since he fired Larry Lucchino in 2001 is that Moorad heads a small group of minority investors and, in time, is expected to succeed Moores as controlling owner. Per complicated negotiations on the club’s phase-in sale, worth more than $400 million in present-day value, Moores will remain majority owner for a number of years . . .
. . . “John is still in control,” said a major-league executive who spoke on the condition he not be identified. “Jeff, though, has a huge amount of money involved. It’s a strange thing. In baseball, you normally wouldn’t have an announcement about a guy buying a minority interest. I guess it’s because there will be a new CEO who, from what I understand, will eventually become controlling partner. I assume Jeff has been approved by the other owners.”
Here the crisis precipitating the sale was not the real estate market, but rather, Moores’ divorce. Here’s what I think happened: With his money tied up in other ventures, there was no way for him to pay the soon-to-be-Mrs. Moores for her share of the Padres, so he needed cash and needed it fast. Enter Moorad, a willing buyer who appeared almost immediately after Moores need to sell and who, amazingly, had the full and immediate support of Selig and the other owners. It’s almost as if someone had orchestrated this in order to keep Moores from having to sell the Padres on the open market where, if the Cubs’ example is of any value, would be a far more protracted and far less-lucrative experience than anyone expected. Someone who was distressed at the notion of a team selling at fire sale prices.
Thankfully for Moores and the other owners, that’s not happening now, as with Moorad’s unique rent-to-own scheme, Moores is given the money up front in order to turn over to the missus, and gets to keep control of the team for the time being. Oddsmakers in Vegas have taken “Moores decides to buy out Moorad in a few years when his financial fortunes turn around” off the board.
Query: how many Jeff Moorads are out there, ready to swoop in and save the day the moment some distressed owner needs them? I can’t imagine there are many. If more divorces or other calamities happen, it’s only a matter of time before some owner is going to have to sell his team to the highest bidder on a real open market, at which time I suspect some serious losses are in the offing.
UPDATE: and now a third installment about all of this. The third part is the best part, I think, so unless you’re utterly sick of this, you’ll want to click through.