Joe Torre has been an “every man” in baseball. He’s been an all-star player, one that stood by Marvin Miller during labor disputes with the league, almost certainly a Hall of Fame manager, and one that’s been working as the head of Baseball Operations for the Commissioner’s Office. So, when news broke today that Torre is, effective immediately, resigning from the league to pursue the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it makes you stand up and take notice.
“Joe has been an invaluable resource for me and all of us at Major League Baseball this year and has splendidly communicated with our on-field personnel general managers and the umpires, “said Commissioner Selig in a statement. “I understand his desire to pursue an opportunity in Los Angeles. Joe has been a life-long friend and I know that will continue in the future.”
Torre isn’t the money man in this effort to purchase the Dodgers, that falls mostly on the shoulders of real estate developer Rick Caruso.
"In Rick I found a partner who understands consumers and fully appreciates that the Dodgers are a treasured LA institution," Torre said in a statement. "Since moving to Los Angeles, I have seen firsthand Rick's dedication to business and the people of Los Angeles.”
According to the their website, in 2004, Caruso Affiliated unveiled plans for an investment of $1 billion in new retail destinations in California, the largest single retail development program in the nation.
But, is all this enough? Is being a “friend” of Selig, along with the Caruso partnership be all it takes to win the Dodgers.
The answer is, maybe.
Unlike other sales, this one runs through the bankruptcy court. It’s not only having the most money for the sale to satisfy creditors, but how that money is structured. More cash in the deal, the better.
Torre and Caruso also aren’t the only ones with big names and big dollars at their disposal. Former LA Laker turned business investor Magic Johnson is in the mix. His investor group sees Mark Walters, chief executive of Guggenheim Partners that controls a staggering $125 billion in assets. Where Caruso gets Torre as his “baseball guy”, Johnson has brought in longtime sports exec Stan Kasten, who most recently left as President and minority owner of the Washington Nationals and prior was president of the Atlanta Braves, Thrashers, and Hawks, all simultaneously. Kasten has a myriad of front office experience at the club level. Torre has none.
There are others, as well… Dennis Gilbert… Fred Claire… Steve Garvey… there are more. But, it’s likely that, depending on the money and baseball ops experience at hand, it could come down to the Torre and Magic groups.
Regardless, Torre alters the landscape in the Dodgers sale. And, (if this ever was in doubt) it shows that you can have a club being well in excess of a half-a-billion dollars in debt, there are still those that want to own historic franchises in large markets. Keep the dial tuned in on this one. The sale is set to be completed by April.
Maury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook