The sale of the San Diego Padres is gaining momentum.
Three bidders remain, and Padres owner John Moores expects to select a buyer between Wednesday and Friday of next week, according to a source close to the sales process.
A group led by former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley is one of the finalists. Also in the running is a group led by Gary Jabara, founder of a wireless communications company in Orange County, the source said.
The source described one as a private equity investor from Los Angeles, but declined to identify him further. The LA Times’ Bill Shaikin reports the third finalist is Stephen Kaplan.
A fourth bidder – Thomas Tull, CEO of Legendary Pictures – was eliminated when he failed to reach the desired sale price, the source said.
Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was part of Tull’s group, but had no financial stake, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. It is possible that Gwynn now will join one of the other groups.
The sale price for the Padres is expected to meet or exceed $800 million, the source said – $600 million for the club and $200 million for a portion of the team’s equity stake in FOX Sports San Diego.
The team will continue to own 20 percent of the regional sports network, and their annual TV revenues will increase from $15 million last season to an average of $50 million per year over the span of the contract.
If a buyer is indeed selected next week, a purchase agreement could be in place by the All-Star break and the deal could close by August, the source said.
Such a timetable would give the new owner a chance to work with the team’s front office to formulate a strategy for the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The Padres face a significant decision on left fielder Carlos Quentin, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. The new owner could authorize general manager Josh Byrnes to offer Quentin a long-term extension, and the outcome of such talks could help determine whether Quentin is traded.
The team also could retain Quentin, then attempt to re-sign him at the end of the season.