I was foolishly under the impression that things couldn’t get any murkier for the Los Angeles Dodgers front office.
Then I came across a startling article in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that claims Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is running out of money.
The piece, written by John Emshwiller, details some very disturbing facts that have emerged from the divorce papers filed between Frank, the team owner, and his soon-to-be ex-wife Jamie, former Dodgers CEO.
To quickly summarize what has happened up until this point, the heart of the divorce hearings will be to decide whether or not Frank is the sole owner of the team, a claim that Jamie argues is completely false.
She insists that they have joint ownership of the club, valued at $800 million, and is entitled to half of the club and its assets.
Jamie is fighting to gain back that lost share because Frank fired her shortly over a month ago, citing insubordination—in the form of an alleged affair with a personal security assistant—and her insufficient performance in the front office.
A judge has already upheld her dismissal from the club, and the couple is waiting for what will be an ugly showdown during their court proceedings in which a Los Angeles county court will divide the couple's assets.
Taking things back to the Wall Street Journal article, the most shocking thing revelation is how Frank is “essentially living from paycheck-to-paycheck” and only has $1.2 million of cash assets at his disposal.
It even goes so far as to say his liquid assets dropped as low as $167,000 recently after making a $700,000 payment to his wife for her expenses.
That may seem like a hefty sum of cash to most people, but for the owner of a professional sports team it amounts to merely pennies.
Additionally, Jamie says that Frank is behind on mortgage payments—which started as high as $28 million to pay off two homes in Malibu valued at $45 million total.
Jamie currently has more accessible liquid assets than Frank, and she has offered to buy the team from him outright, but he insists that it’s not for sale.
The current unrest highlights worries that have been present ever since the McCourts bought the team in 2004.
There have always been lingering questions as to how much money Frank really has in his name and if his funds are enough to fully support the organization.
Whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that these new revelations could have damning implications for the Boys in Blue.
The focus of the baseball world will now be thrust upon the impact that the McCourt divorce will have on one of the most storied franchises in all of sports.
Not only does it leave the future in doubt, but it also raises questions about recent transactions and the effect the upcoming divorce may have had on them.
Clearly, both Frank and Jamie saw this divorce coming, because we all know that 700 sheets of divorce papers don’t just come out of nowhere.
We also already know that at the present time, the organization is making an attempt to be financially responsible, which has already resulted in the team exiting bidding for John Lackey despite the glaring need for a top-end starting pitcher.
So is it possible that the pending divorce case prevented the Dodgers from trading for Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay at the trading deadline?
I think the answer is most definitely yes.
What a shame it is—that the Dodgers could have had their ace if Frank and Jamie McCourt could have just figured out their personal matters.
More worrisome is the litany of young players headed to arbitration in the next two years, including Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, and Clayton Kershaw.
From this point forward, it appears that Frank is on a collision course with being forced to sell the team, as demonstrated last year when we saw the San Diego Padres owner sell the team as a result of a nasty divorce.
A change of ownership would be a gigantic issue, especially with so many players headed to arbitration, and the team could face a scenario where they lose most of the young core of this top-end team.
Whether Frank has to sell his share of the team to Jamie, or to a third party, the ownership flux in Los Angeles will be a colossal detriment to the Dodgers' title hopes.
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