Look Out, World: Here Come the Dodgers

It’s been almost exactly 24 hours since news broke of the Guggenheim group being selected by Frank McCourt, and as you can imagine, the day has been filled with plenty of discussion about debt, parking lots, and revenue sources – and rightfully so.

Those are all eminently worthwhile discussion topics, and believe me, we’ll have plenty of time to get deeply into all of that in the coming weeks. But here’s what else we’ve learned over the last day; after years of watching this team bottomfeed for the Chris Capuanos and Juan Riveras of the world rather than get in on the big fish, observers of other teams are absolutely terrified of what the Dodgers are going to be able to do next winter.

Adam Moore, Lone Star Ball:

The Dodgers’ outfield currently consists of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and a black hole. Ethier is a free agent after the season. Hamilton is one of the most marketable and popular players in the game right now. And the Dodgers will have money to spend.

You think Magic might be at Hamilton’s house at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of free agency this year? You think new ownership might be willing to offer the type of “Jayson Werth contract” — 7 years, $126 million — that Hamilton is supposed saying is a starting point on a new deal, and that the Rangers aren’t going to come close to matching?

Most likely, this is Josh Hamilton‘s last season in Texas. I expect next year at this time, he’ll be wearing Dodger blue.

For the record, I absolutely do not want to give Josh Hamilton a 7/$126m deal or anything like it.

Jim Kozimor, CSN Bay Area:

If I’m a Giants fan, I’m nervous. Here’s why:
- If someone spends that kind of money for a baseball team it’s not just a trinket they can hold. They want to play with it.
- Long term, the Giants are now pitted against a Yankees-like financial powerhouse.
- Of more immediate concern: L.A. has to be considered a player in the Matt Cain Sweepstakes.

Henry Schulman, San Francisco Gate:

I can’t begin to guess whether this will make it harder for the Giants to sign Cain, either now or next fall. But there is no question he has the Giants over a barrel now. That does not mean the Giants should hand Cain a blank contract and let him fill in the figure. But if Cain wants something approaching market value to sign now, the Giants are probably going to have spend above their comfort level. Will they do it? I still think they will.

Remember, the man at the helm now, Larry Baer, is a marketing man. Surely he understands the wrath that the ticket-buyers will feel if the Giants do not make a competitive offer and let him walk, especially if he walks into Chavez Ravine.

Kevin Cooney, Phils-ville:

You don’t spend that type of money and then suddenly decide to go cheap. And in a town where the Dodgers brand name was king at one point, Johnson now brings instant credibility to both fans and potential free agents. And while Stan Kasten will be the baseball guy running the show and there will be others with bigger financial stakes, Johnson – who has made a fortune after his career in various business interest – is the drawing card.

And how would this impact the Phillies? Well, let’s start with a certain left-handed starting pitcher.

Lost in the injury din of the lost spring in Clearwater has been the fact that things on the Cole Hamels front have been extremely quiet. John Boggs came into town for a few days, but progress has not been reported.

Hey, who knows how many of these guys ever make it to the market, or if we even want them. But for once, it seems that the Dodgers might actually be in the market for top players rather than simply those who fall into their limited payroll structure. Other teams are already taking notice. Is it wrong to be looking forward to the 2012-13 offseason more than the 2012 season itself?

$2.15 Billion Offer for Dodgers Reportedly All Cash; McCourt Asks For Small, Unmarked, Non-sequential Bills

Left: Todd Boehly, president of Guggenheim Partners. Center: another rich white guy! Right: Mark Walter, CEO.

I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised by the infusion of negativity into the final thread of the ownership news last night, with people making outlandish claims like “the new owners are coming in with a BILLION DOLLARS in debt” and that Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Andre Ethier were as good as gone, because the underfunded ownership group would make the Dodgers “Houston Astro level bad”, with a healthy share of unhappiness that Frank McCourt would still be a player in the parking lots.

That’s all understandable to a point, I suppose, because information was flying around fast and furious last night. A healthy dose of skepticism isn’t entirely unhealthy, and I certainly shared some of it.

First, the Wall Street Journal on debt

The person said the other offers, which were perceived as opening bids, were in the range of $1.5 billion, some 25% less than the Johnson-Walter bid. As a result, the other bidders were never given a chance to match, and the deal was wrapped up by Tuesday evening.

The bid was described as a “100% cash offer.” Mr. Walter is making a significant personal contribution to the purchase price, with Guggenheim Partners, of which he is chief executive, playing a substantial role in financial contribution.

One. Hundred. Percent. Cash. I’m quite honestly floored by that, simply considering the sheer magnitude of the $2.15b purchase price. (Which is what we’re going to be referring to it as from now on, because let’s not pretend the additional $150m for the parking lot partnership doesn’t count.) If true, then there’s no concern about debt service at all, which was in the end what brought McCourt down. While the obvious next question may be, “how can they possibly still have money left to invest in the team if they just spent so much on the purchase,” remember how different of a situation this is from when McCourt bought in. His purchase was almost entirely on debt, with his personal outlay being either extremely small or by some reports, nothing at all. The Guggenheim group is not only well-funded, but has multiple partners, including Hollywood producer Peter Guger and other Guggenheim members (including Todd Boehly, seen in the picture.) Most importantly, unlike McCourt, no one is buying into this as their primary source of income, as he was, and you don’t make this kind of investment to finish in fifth place (and be a poor primary anchor for the inevitable television network).

But there’s more! While we’re regrettably not 100% rid of McCourt, nor is Dodger Stadium surrounded by parking lots that only he controls. According to several tweets from Bill Shaikin, the joint venture which will control the lots makes McCourt a minority partner at best. The “deal allows Magic group to control parking lots for games, Magic and McCourt to jointly pursue any development of lots,” Shaikin wrote, and he later added that the Magic group would have the ability to veto any development plans. So while we’ll need to learn a bit more about that, it does initially seem that McCourt could be potentially frozen out if the Magic group decides not to build on the land, since all game-day traffic is controlled by incoming ownership.

There’s a whole lot to do – Jon Weisman runs down the list at ESPN/LA – and still some questions that need to be answered, but even just in the 12 hours or so in the news has broken, things are looking better by the minute. It’s a good day, friends, with hopefully a lot more to come.