UPDATE: Our own Gordon Edes confirms that yes, the Rangers are borrowing cash from Uncle Bud.
* * *
Were you wondering what baseball team might be the first to run into serious financial troubles? Well, there's an interesting story bubbling down in the Metroplex, where rumors are circulating that the Texas Rangers had to borrow $15 million from Major League Baseball to make their payroll.
Everything in its very early stages, but here's what we know so far: On Wednesday, a caller to Kevin Kennedy's show on XM Radio said he heard the above was true. Though Kennedy didn't corroborate the story, he said his sources in the organization have been painting a shaky financial footing for the team under owner Tom Hicks (right) and that the organization would be sold "sooner, rather than later."
All of this was heard by Joe Siegler of Rangerfans, who went home after hearing the segment and blogged about what was said. From there, Evan Grant of D Magazine and Maury of Brown from The Biz of Baseball sprang into action and reported a flurry of no comments from sources ranging to Hicks to team president Nolan Ryan to a MLB spokesman.
"Club sources, however, said the team has paid its employees for the most recent pay period and that Hicks remains in control of the organization.According to a source familiar with the situation, the Rangers are continuing normal operating procedures and have financial resources to sign both draft picks and international free agents. The source, however, did not mention the possibility of increasing payroll at the trading deadline.
"According to a source, a scenario has been in place for several weeks that would have allowed the Rangers to borrow from the MLB fund. It would not mean MLB would take control of the club, but under those circumstances, it's likely MLB would have much more say on spending matters. The Rangers top two draft picks, LHP Matt Purke and RHP Tanner Scheppers, are both demanding bonuses well in excess of the current MLB-recommended 'slotting' system."
I'm assuming we'll be hearing a little more about this story and as Maury points out, there's plenty of reason for concern. Hicks Sports Group went into default on a $525 million loan earlier this year and it's been rumored he could sell his majority ownership. Stay tuned.