Joe Torre resigned Wednesday as Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations to join a group trying to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Torre managed the Dodgers from 2008 to 2010, then retired and joined MLB last February as a top aide to Commissioner Bud Selig. He is joining a group headed by real estate developer Rick Caruso.
”In Rick I found a partner who understands consumers and fully appreciates that the Dodgers are a treasured LA institution,” Torre said in a statement. ”Since moving to Los Angeles, I have seen firsthand Rick’s dedication to business and the people of Los Angeles."
The Dodgers were put up for sale by owner Frank McCourt in November, five months after the team filed for bankruptcy. Following months of bickering and accusations of mismanagement, an agreement between McCourt and MLB said the team is to be sold by April 30, which coincides with the deadline for McCourt to pay former wife Jamie a $131 million divorce settlement.
Initial bids for the team are due by Jan. 23 with the Blackstone Group, Frank McCourt’s investment banker. The price likely will break the record for a baseball franchise, topping the $845 million paid by the Ricketts family for the Chicago Cubs in 2009.
”Joe has a proven track record of fielding winning teams and I am looking forward to our group benefiting from his unique experience,” Caruso said in a statement. ”I am a lifelong Angeleno; I love this city and have dedicated my career to creating world-class destinations that support this community and foster great customer experiences. Joe and I believe in the Dodgers and Dodger fans and know that together we will foster a winning culture.”
He is president of Caruso Affiliated, which developed The Grove, a 20-acre retail, dining and entertainment site adjacent to the Farmers Market in Los Angeles. Former Goldman Sachs vice chairman Byron Trott is the group’s banker and O’Melveny & Myers is its law firm.
Torre, the 1971 National League MVP, was a nine-time All-Star during a playing career from 1960-77, then managed the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. After working as a broadcaster for the Angels, he managed the New York Yankees from 1996-07 and led them to four World Series titles.
With MLB, the 71-year-old Torre delegated much of the day-to-day work to three senior vice presidents he appointed in March: former Arizona GM Joe Garagiola Jr., former Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng and former Arizona assistant GM Peter Woodfork.
”Joe has been an invaluable resource for me and all of us at Major League Baseball this year,” Selig said in a statement. ”I understand his desire to pursue an opportunity in Los Angeles. Joe has been a lifelong friend and I know that will continue in the future.”
Other potential bidders for the team include:
• Steven Cohen of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors.
• a group that includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson, former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten and Guggenheim Partners chief executive officer Mark Walter.
• a group that includes former agent and current Chicago White Sox special assistant Dennis Gilbert, talk show host Larry King and Jason Reese of Imperial Capital.
• a group that includes former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire, former Oakland Athletics president Andy Dolich and former Dodgers batboy Ben Hwang, who brought in the financial backers
• former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley.
• a group that includes former Dodgers stars Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey, and Joey Herrick of Natural Balance Pet Foods.
• Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Winners of six World Series titles but none since 1988, the Dodgers have been in turmoil since October 2009, when the McCourts separated and Frank fired Jamie as the team’s chief executive officer.
Selig installed former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer as the Dodgers’ financial monitor in April, ruling he must approve any expense of $5,000 or more.
The Dodgers finished third in the NL West at 82-79, had just three sellouts and fell short of 3 million in home attendance in a full season for the first time since 1992.