MLB, Frank McCourt near agreement?
The Los Angeles Dodgers' bankruptcy hearings were postponed until late November so that owner Frank McCourt can look into a potential agreement with Major League Baseball, sources familiar with the situation told the Los Angeles Times.
Terms of the agreement may include McCourt agreeing to sell the team, according to the paper.
The sides were scheduled to appear in bankruptcy court starting Oct. 31 with a judge ruling on competing motions for four days. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross issued an order Wednesday saying that those hearings will now take place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.
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McCourt met with MLB on Tuesday to discuss the possible settlement, according to the Times.
McCourt had asked Gross to approve his auction of the team's television rights. Major League Baseball opposes the auction because it believes much of the money will be used to pay off McCourt's personal debts. In recent court filings MLB alleges McCourt has siphoned $190 million from the Dodgers for his own personal use since taking over the team in 2004. The league called McCourt's actions "looting," a claim he flatly denies.
MLB also believes that instead of putting TV revenue into the team, McCourt would use it to pay his ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, the $130 million he owes her under terms of the divorce settlement they reached last week. A source close to the case not authorized to speak publicly on the matter says that money must be paid in full by next spring. It is unclear how Frank McCourt would meet that obligation without cash from a new TV deal or selling the Dodgers.
If the judge rules in McCourt's favor he will do so over the objection of the Dodgers current broadcasting partner, Fox Sports, as well. The company, which has exclusive rights to televise Dodgers games through the 2012 season, has sued McCourt for breach of contract.
Former Dodger great Steve Garvey, who has publicly acknowledged an interest in buying the club when and if it is sold, said the postponement of the hearing was disappointing because the delay could cost the Dodgers a chance at pursuing some of the top free agents on the market this winter and delay negotiations on an extension with All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp, who would become a free agent after next season.
Baseball's winter meetings are scheduled for Dec. 5-8 in Dallas, just three days after the new bankruptcy hearing is scheduled to conclude in Delaware.
"It's a purgatory situation and it becomes frustrating. We were geared up to, next week, get an education from the judge as to really how he's feeling and where he's leaning," Garvey told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Wednesday afternoon. "Now we have to be patient for another month. We think once that happens in court, things will be much more clear."
Earlier, during a radio appearance on 710 ESPNLA's "Lunch with a Legend," Garvey said the timing of a final resolution to the bankruptcy case and ownership situation might be too rushed for a new ownership group to have a normal offseason.
"The problem is timing," Garvey told hosts Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson. "If this doesn't happen and a free agency class goes by us, we're going to have to be very creative in changing the ... team, the talent on the team. It can be done ... but it makes it more complicated."
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Molly Knight, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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