Joe Torre, the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager who last year moved into Major League Baseball’s front office, stepped down from his executive post today and announced he was joining LA developer Rick Caruso to bid on the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team is being sold by current owner Frank McCourt as part of a bankruptcy settlement with MLB that included the early auctioning of the team’s local TV rights, which could fetch as much as $3 billion. Forbes estimates the franchise is worth around $800 million, and some believe any sale would eclipse the record price for a baseball franchise, set a couple of years ago with the Chicago Cubs’ $845 million tab. Caruso is the man behind The Grove complex adjacent to the LA Farmers Market among other real estate holdings. And Torre has done a little bit of everything in the sport: winning an MVP as a player, winning multiple World Series as manager of the New York Yankees, and a long stint as a broadcaster in between. He was EVP Baseball Operations at MLB before deciding to join Caruso.
The list of potential owners lining up offers already features intriguing names, which will make for fun watching when the bids come due January 23 to the Blackstone Group, McCourt’s banker handling the sale. Among them: Mark Cuban, the media mogul and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks who finished second in that auction for the Cubs in 2009; Lakers great Magic Johnson, part of a group including Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter; longtime CNN host Larry King, part of a group that includes former agent Dennis Gilbert; and separate groups led by former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley, former GM Fred Claire, and former players Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser. An agreement between baseball and McCourt stipulates that the team be sold by April 30.