The group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan agreed to give up their exclusive negotiating rights so that bidding could be re-opened for the club. A few quick notes on that and how this impacts the deadline:
* Rangers Baseball Express would never have relinquished its exclusive rights if it didn't feel that it was still the favorite to own the club. The group believes its original bid is fair and is only giving up the rights because certain parameters are in place. Those include (among others) MLB pre-screening any bidder, the bidder showing he's got the financing fully in place, and MLB would still have to approve any potential purchaser as well.
* All of this is subject to court approval, and I'm sure it will all come up in mediated talks today. So we'll see where that goes.
* Some of you asked if Greenberg would just throw up his hands and get out of the process. That's not going to happen. He's stayed in this long through all kinds of ups and downs, and he's not about to turn around and leave now. The one thing this process would do, if approved, is decide on July 16 (barring MLB approval) who owns the team. The Greenberg group is confident it's going to be the owner. Would it have preferred the court simply approve the pre-packaged bankruptcy plan? Of course. This current auction proposal carries with it risks should an unknown bidder come in and make a strong play for the team. But based on what's happened in court, the Greenberg group decided this was the best way to go about bringing an end to the process and becoming owner either by late July or early August.
* What does this mean for the trade deadline? The odds seem long that any of this would be decided in time to give this team a financial boost at the July 31 deadline. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and his staff have planned for every contingency.
"We're not counting on the sale coming to a head before the deadline at this point," Daniels said via e-mail Monday night. "If it does, we'll gladly adjust. There are a lot of good things going on and we expect to build on that with the team and resources we have."
It doesn't mean the club can't do anything. They have some built-in wiggle room in the internal budget and part of the thinking on trading Michael Main in the Bengie Molina deal was to save some of that wiggle room for the deadline. Remember also that the Rangers have plenty of assets in the minor league system. If they wanted to make a deal for someone with a larger salary, they could trade give up more in return for the trading team taking on more salary (like they did with the Giants and Molina).
Not having ownership in place limits what Daniels can do, but it doesn't mean he can't do anything. For example, Cliff Lee would be owed around $4 million for the rest of the season. The Rangers could make that work, even if it meant trading away an additional prospect or two if they wanted the Mariners to pick up some of Lee's salary.
Daniels is creative. We all saw that at the winter meetings in December as he remade the club with limited resources. He can certainly do it again at the deadline. Stay tuned.