Remember those groups that were rumored to be interested in buying the A’s, even though the A’s aren’t actually for sale? They may have a more realistic target now that Jeff Moorad has stepped down from his Padres CEO post. Although Moorad will stay on as a Vice Chairman, the new role appears to be little more than a placeholder as still-majority owner John Moores figures out what to do next.
The circumstances for Moorad’s departure are shrouded in mystery. It’s possible that, after all this time, enough owners had a grudge against the former agent that there was no way he’d get the gig. If so, that’s a cruel joke to play on the man, considering they and Commissioner Selig set in motion the “layaway” plan in 2009 that allowed Moorad to believe he’d buy the team in the first place. Another reason for getting rid of Moorad may be the allegation that he was looking to use upfront from the new Fox Sports San Diego-Padres broadcast rights deal to pay down debt, Frank McCourt-style.
At Gaslamp Ball, there’s a post with the notion that Moorad wanted to accelerate the sale so that Moores couldn’t get a taste of the new TV money, and when Moores found out how much that was, he suddenly wasn’t in such a hurry to sell the team. The new revenue stream should help Moores net a higher sale price than the $530 million negotiated in 2009. $600 million, anyone?
For now it appears that Moores is not in a hurry to sell the team. He’s got a nice new revenue stream, better profitability for the team and for himself, and he’s clear of his ugly divorce. He’ll meet with the minority partners, including Bob Piccinini, and tell them what his plans are, whether it’s to encourage them to bring in a new managing partner candidate or to sell their stakes back to him so that he can resell the team whole later. It’s clear that he’s done running a team, so a sale can be expected sooner rather than later.
That provides an opening for the many bidders who’ve lost out out on the Dodgers. The bidding list in LA is down to three, with no bid lower than $1.4 billion. The Dodgers will be a $300+ million annual revenue team once their next TV deal is made, whereas the Padres should be a $200 million revenue team with their new deal. Even at $600 million, the Padres look like a far better deal than the Dodgers, unless a bidder absolutely has to have the Dodgers or the team’s brand cachet. One of the parties supposedly interested in the A’s was an LA financier involved in the Dodger bidding, so it seems natural for him to turn his attention two hours south instead. (If you’re wondering, I don’t know who the second interested party is – yet.)
The Padres aren’t the only team up for sale. A rumor emerged last month that Peter Angelos was looking to offload the Orioles. Angelos is in the catbird seat there, as he has the $360 million guaranteed sale price for the franchise and ownership of MASN, the area’s regional sports network that carries both the O’s and Nats. He can sell either or both. If he sells only the team he should get $500 million. If he sells both he could get up to $1 billion. The team has denied the rumor.
Anything is potentially for sale for the right price, including any baseball team. It’s easy to say you’re interested in a team or to enter bidding. Getting a sale consummated? With the incredible amounts of money at stake, it’s a lot easier said than done.