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Monday, May 3, 2010
MLB may seize Rangers, avoid creditors

By Richard Durrett
ESPNDallas.com

Major League Baseball is considering seizing ownership of the Texas Rangers in an attempt to finalize a deal to sell the club to the group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and club president Nolan Ryan, a source familiar with the negotiations told ESPNDallas.com on Monday.

The Sports Business Journal, citing several sources, first reported Monday that the league could take control of the team under the "best interests of baseball" rule and sell the group to Rangers Baseball Express to avoid creditors blocking the agreement. That could provoke the creditors to take legal action, which might include an involuntary bankruptcy petition.

Hicks Sports Group was forced to sell majority stake in the club after defaulting on a $525 million loan early last year. Major League Baseball eventually had to step in and infuse some money into the club.

Tom Hicks negotiated with potential buyers, including Houston businessman Jim Crane and former agent Dennis Gilbert, but settled on the Greenberg-Ryan group. Hicks entered into exclusive negotiations with Greenberg and agreed on a deal in late January. Since then, the creditors, which must approve the agreement, have not signed off on it.

Nearly two weeks ago, Hicks said he was "concerned" an agreement with the Greenberg group might not be reached. He added that Monarch Alternative Capital, the largest HSG lender, wasn't happy with the deal.

"There's an impasse," Hicks said then. "The lender thinks the group led by Chuck may not be the highest bidder and they want to learn more about their options. That's something that's got to be worked out by baseball, the Greenberg group and the lenders. I hope it gets worked out soon. It needs to be worked out soon."

MLB issued a statement hours later saying it was in control of the sale and did not want any interference "by Mr. Hicks or any other party."

Richard Durrett covers the Texas Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.