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Outcome in Texas Rangers Auction Could Mean Losing Cliff Lee, Others PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 01 August 2010 13:40

Texas RangersUPDATE: A report on Monday shows that: Nine Mon. Delay if Greenberg/Ryan Not Auction Winners for Texas Rangers

For only the second time in Major League Baseball history, one of its clubs will be put up for auction. Bids for the purchase of the Texas Rangers are due at 8pm CT on Tues. with the auction taking place Weds. and the outcome announced on Thurs. The last time a club was auctioned off in bankruptcy was 1993 when Peter Angelos beat out Jeffrey Loria for the Baltimore Orioles.

The outcome of the auction process could have consequences for any chance of the Rangers being able to competitively work to retain LHP Cliff Lee. Since coming over to the Rangers from the Seattle Mariners he is 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA, striking out 25 in 35.1 innings pitched and is seen as a cornerstone to any postseason run for the Rangers who currently sit in first place in the AL West with a comfortable 8.5 game lead on the LA Angels.

Major League Baseball has said that it is set to approve their preferred group of Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan by Aug. 12, should they win out in the auction process. The lenders of Hicks Sports Group, who owns the Rangers and has defaulted on $525 million in loans, oppose the Greenberg/Ryan group, going so far as to provide bridge funding for other bidders in an attempt to gin up the group, or push them out all together.

The bidders expected to be involved at the auction include Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and Houston businessman Jim Crane, Dallas businessman Jeff Beck, and possibly Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (as of publication it was unclear if News Corp had been cleared by MLB as an approved bidder for the process). Cuban and Crane have reportedly been offered funding by Monarch Alternative Capital, a “predatory” hedge fund that is now carrying the majority of debt for HSG. Monarch has been the primary stumbling block for the Greenberg/Ryan group completing the sale.

(For more, see Mark Cuban is Sleeping with the Enemy in Texas Rangers Sale, FOX May Bid on Club)

Should a group other than Greenberg/Ryan win at auction, MLB has said it could be 3 months before owners could decide to vote for approval; sometime in early Nov., baseball’s off-season when free agent players, such as Cliff Lee, are traditional signed.

And that’s not to say that MLB would approve any ownership group other than Greenberg/Ryan. Should the league’s 30 owners fail to reach a 75 percent vote in favor of the auction winner, the length of time the Rangers could be stuck in limbo could extend further still. Scenarios such as the league seizing the Rangers, the lenders going to court to challenge MLB’s constitution, which details ownership control rights, all could play out. A $21.5 million loan by MLB, which has allowed the club to work deals, such as Lee’s at the trade deadline, would easily be exhausted by the off-season.

And, it’s not just Lee that could wind up not being resigned. Below is a list of free agent players that see contracts expire at the end of the season:

  • Cliff Lee
  • Christian Guzman
  • Jorge Cantu
  • Bengie Molina
  • Frank Francisco

MORE NEWS AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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