11/02/11 2:02 AM ET
Dodgers owner McCourt agrees to sell team
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"The Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball announced that they have agreed today to a court-supervised process to sell the team and its attendant media rights in a manner designed to realize maximum value for the Dodgers and their owner, Frank McCourt," read a joint statement. "The Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale process."
There is no timeline for the sale to be completed. It's not known if the decision might impact the club's ability to sign free agents, but a baseball source said the Dodgers are still prepared to pursue a big bat, with first baseman Prince Fielder the apparent No. 1 target.
The agreement culminates a two-year period that started with the breakup of McCourt's 29-year marriage with former club president Jamie McCourt and led to a bankruptcy and an eventual court showdown between McCourt and MLB to determine ownership.
McCourt was attempting to take the Dodgers out of bankruptcy by selling future media rights over the objections of MLB and FOX, which holds current rights. MLB had asked the court to order a sale of the club, accusing McCourt of violating MLB rules by taking $190 million of team funds for personal use.
A hearing scheduled to begin this week, however, was postponed last week as negotiations toward a settlement heated up. McCourt, according to a source, finally felt selling was in the best interests of everyone involved. A deal was struck Tuesday night and he sent out an e-mail to notify all employees.
"I have made this decision because I believe it is in the best interests of our organization, our loyal fans and the community at large," McCourt wrote in the e-mail to employees.
McCourt's willingness to sell apparently increased as soon as he and Jamie McCourt reached a divorce settlement last month for $130 million. Prior to that, Jamie McCourt contended that she was entitled to half ownership of the Dodgers as California community property. The McCourts bought the Dodgers from FOX in 2004 for $421 million.
Speculation has the Dodgers bringing as much as $1 billion or more. The sale not only includes the club and Dodger Stadium, but also the media rights. McCourt had struck a deal with FOX to extend the current media rights for 17 years at $3 billion, but under the circumstances, MLB rejected the terms of that agreement.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.