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Baseball Insider

Padres' qualifying bids were $800 million; one involved party thinks it's a nutty price

The Padres are currently last in player payroll at about $55 million (US Presswire)

Padres owner John Moores has raised his price for the team about 50 percent after his original deal with Jeff Moorad fell through.

And though it appears he may well get $800 million plus, some interested parties think his asking price can't be justified by the Padres' low revenues.

Despite the seemingly high price tag, it appears Moores still has at least two potential buyers in the bidding at $800 million, and maybe even three. According to sources, $800 million was the qualifying offer just to make it into the final three.

No doubt, the Los Angeles Dodgers' stunning sale price of $2.15 billion has changed the landscape of baseball ownership in a hurry. But some believe the low-revenue Padres at $800 million plus is just as crazy as the Dodgers' record price, if not more.

"Each one of these [owners] now thinks he's got gold for life," said one of a few interested persons connected to a group that recently dropped out of the bidding.

One person who saw the Padres' books said, in his opinion, the team is a money loser if the player payroll exceeeds $35 million, a paltry sum for a baseball team -- even the Padres. The Padres are currently last in player payroll at about $55 million, but that is expected to be reduced further with an expected sale at the July trade deadline, which may include trades for star outfielder Carlos Quentin, closer Huston Street, pitcher Edinson Volquez and others.

Moores' $800 million price tag is said to come from $600 million for the team plus a $200 million piece of the team's new lucrative TV deal with Fox. Speaking of the additional $200 million request, one management person called the added monies an "aggressive" play. One other factors that is driving up MLB team prices is the monster success that is MLBAM, or "BAM," as it is called, standing for MLB advanced media, and including the very successful MLB.com.

Among bidders who dropped out was film magnate Thomas Tull, who was perceived as a favorite. Late word is that Connecticut hedge fund king Stevie Cohen, whose net worth is estimated at between $8 billion and $20 billion, also decided against making a play for the Padres.

The narrowed field has now left the O'Malley family, former Dodgers owners, and one or two others as as the apparent finalists. One other unnamed Los Angeles businessman is said to be in the running, as might Dennis Gilbert, the former superagent who tried for the Rangers and Dodgers.

The O'Malley group has been the most oft-mentioned suitors for the Padres and includes golf great Phil Mickelson, a famous San Diegan. Interestingly, though, all of the current perceived finalists are Los Angelenos.

Moores originally hoped to sell the team for about $500 million to Moorad before Moorad's bid was delayed last November and eventually fell through this past spring. Moores was originally so upset his deal with Moorad was put off in November, he was the only owner who originally voted against commissioner Bud Selig's new two-year term (before he officially changed his vote). The Dodgers' sale price boosted the value of all the franchises, and Moores looks like the first beneficiary, so he is said to be quite pleased with MLB at the moment.

Moores owns 51 percent of the Padres while Moorad, who had been attempting to complete takeover of the team for a couple years, owns 49 percent. So Moorad, who was surely very disappointed to lose out in his bid, also stands to benefit greatly, at least financially.

A potential sale could be approved as early as the August owners meetings.
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