McCourts Reach Divorce Settlement

The Los Angeles Times reported the deal that removes a major obstacle in Frank McCourt's plan to retain ownership of the Dodgers by selling the television rights in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. It also sets up a showdown between Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who wants the Dodgers to be sold.

The agreement settles what is believed to be the costliest divorce in California history. The McCourts had run up $20.6 million in legal bills related to the divorce through July, according to filings with Los Angeles Superior Court.

Determining whether the Dodgers were the sole property of Frank McCourt or community property could have added at least $14 million to that total, based on estimates in a filing on behalf of Jamie McCourt.



The people familiar with the agreement spoke on condition of anonymity because the settlement has not been finalized. However, such a settlement would conclude what is believed to be the costliest divorce in California history.

The McCourts incurred $20.6 million in legal bills related to the divorce through July, according to Los Angeles Superior Court filings by each of the parties. To settle the outstanding dispute over whether the Dodgers were the sole property of Frank McCourt or community property could have added at least $14 million to those bills, based on estimates in a filing on behalf of Jamie McCourt.

Commissioner Bud Selig has asked the Bankruptcy Court to order the Dodgers sold. For Frank McCourt to keep the team, he probably needs U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross to deny Selig's request and to grant an auction of the Dodgers' television rights, over the objections of Selig and Fox Sports.

However, in the absence of the pending settlement, Frank McCourt could not have kept the team without defeating Selig in Bankruptcy Court, then defeating his ex-wife in divorce court on the issue of whether the Dodgers were community property.

It is uncertain whether the Bankruptcy Court would allow McCourt to use money from a television deal to satisfy a divorce settlement — Selig would not — or whether the net proceeds of a sale of the team would exceed $130 million.

NOTES
Major League Baseball forbids any major player trades during the playoffs and World Series. The results in an almost complete information blackout. Following the series we will again be able to share with our subscribers what is happening with the club.


ROSTER REPORT
Shortly after the All-Star break, the Dodgers appeared to need a massive roster overhaul, as they were double digits under .500 and double digits out of first place. The late-season revival, led by a number of young players with cheap salaries, has GM Ned Colletti believing the Dodgers are close to the playoffs and now only need slight tinkering.

BIGGEST NEEDS: Another bat in the middle of the lineup. Free agent 1B Prince Fielder would be perfect, yet very expensive. If RHP Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, a No. 2 or 3 starting pitcher will be needed to replace him.

FREE AGENTS: C Rod Barajas, INF Aaron Miles, INF Jamey Carroll, 3B Casey Blake, OF Juan Rivera, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP Jonathan Broxton, RHP Jon Garland, RHP Vicente Padilla.

Colletti would like to bring back Barajas and Rivera, but it will have to be at the right price. Miles and Carroll were quality veteran leaders who played more (and better) than expected, but only one is needed when rookie Justin Sellers can do the same. Broxton and Blake, coming off injuries, are doubtful to return. Padilla has been sidelined most of the past two years by injuries, but he's been effective when healthy and could return on the cheap.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: 1B James Loney, CF Matt Kemp, RF Andre Ethier, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo, LHP Clayton Kershaw.

The Dodgers would like to lock up Kemp and Ethier to long-term contracts before they become free agents after the 2012 season. Kershaw has three years left until free agency, so a long-term deal is possible, but he could go year to year. Kuo is a tough non-tender decision, and he might retire. Loney will remain unless a big-bopper free agent is signed.

IN LIMBO: 3B Casey Blake, RHP Jon Garland.

Blake and Garland have options that won't be exercised. While there's often chatter about the Dodgers trading RF Andre Ethier this winter, Colletti continues to insist he wants Ethier long-term.

MEDICAL WATCH:
--INF Juan Uribe (sports hernia surgery in September 2011) should be ready well before spring training.

--RF Andre Ethier (arthroscopic right knee surgery) in September 2011) should be ready well before spring training.

--RHP Rubby De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery in August 2011) won't return before August 2012.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (arthroscopic right elbow surgery in September 2011) should be able to begin a throwing program in late October or November.

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