Earlier today news broke that Major League Baseball will assume ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers. You can read Commissioner Bud Selig’s official statement here.
After years of mismanagement coupled with a messy divorce between owner Frank McCourt and his wife, former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt, the team has found itself saddled with over $400 million in debt. Last summer, Selig denied the team’s request to borrow $200 million from Fox Entertainment Group, which was believed intended to help McCourt cover payroll.
His recent request for $30 million seems to have been the final straw.
Currently, everyone on both sides seem to be choosing their words carefully and speculation has come only from anonymous sources. It is believed that MLB will move quickly to find a buyer for the team and that should pose no significant problems. However, declines in attendance the past few seasons for the Dodgers could prove to be a snag in any negotiations.
What does this mean for the beleaguered franchise?
Payroll has dropped over the past few seasons but it did spike a bit last offseason at $119 million. Obviously, freezes will happen if the team finds itself contending in July, since there won’t be any trades for high-priced veterans. But the major short-term change will be how the Dodgers approach the amateur draft in June. The team has the 16th pick in what is expected to be one of the deeper drafts in recent history, with no other pick until the second round, pick 74. Typically, the Dodgers have gone go well over recommended “slot” money in their pursuit of high-ceiling talent. That along with any high spending in the international market is expected to cease… at least for the moment.
A side note: Look for things to get really interesting if Selig is forced to go after his longtime friends the Wilpons, owners of the Mets, if that situation doesn’t improve soon.