One player extremely excited about the ownership change is third baseman Michael Young. Young hasn't spent much time with Chuck Greenberg, but he likes what he's seen and what he's heard about the new owner. "You look at every great baseball town whether it's New York or Boston or Chicago or St. Louis and there's always this great relationship between the team and the fans," Young said. "The fans are supportive and they come to see winning baseball and that's where we're heading to right now."
Young, who is usually guarded with his comments, is excited about the chances of making his first-ever trip to the playoffs this year. "I've served time for about nine years now," he said. "I'm ready to kind of bust out a little bit and be a part of something that's going to be memorable and fun. This is going to be one of those jewels of baseball as far as our organization is concerned."
Infielder Joe Inglett has been designated for assignement to make room on the 40-man roster for right-hander Colby Lewis, who signed with the Rangers on Tuesday. The Rangers have a full 40-man roster.
The possibility remains that the Rangers will make a few more moves, though they would likely be minor-league deals with invitations to spring training. The exception could be if the club strikes a deal with right-hander Ben Sheets, but that doesn't seem likely at this point.
Adam Morris, who runs the great site lonestarball.com, summed his feelings up with the tagline "Fans now freed from the clutches of Tom Hicks." Is that everyone's feeling out there? I know from the one meeting I had with Chuck Greenberg is that fans are going to like him. He seems very responsive to the wants and needs of the people who follow the team. He's also very passionate about what he does, which fans are also going to like.
(Dallas, TX, January 23, 2010) – Hicks Sports Group LLC announced today that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell the Texas Rangers franchise to Rangers Baseball Express LLC, an investment group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, the legendary pitcher who now serves as president of Texas Rangers Baseball Partners. The agreement represents completion of the second major step to sell the team. It is still subject to approval by Major League Baseball and certain lending institutions, as well as completion of financing.
"Together, we have worked exhaustively since last month to attain this agreement," said Tom Hicks whose family controls Hicks Sports Group. "It’s a complex business deal that positions the franchise positively for the future."
In a separate transaction, Ballpark Real Estate, L.P., an independent investment vehicle controlled by Hicks, entered into an agreement to sell or transfer to the Greenberg-Ryan group approximately 153 of the 195 acres around the Ballpark and Cowboys Stadium that is owned or controlled by Ballpark Real Estate or the Hicks family. In return for the transferred land, Ballpark Real Estate will receive cash, notes, and an ownership position in the team.
Greenberg will serve as the Managing Partner and CEO of Rangers Baseball Express while Ryan will continue in his role as President. Co-lead investments in Rangers Baseball Express will be made by Ray Davis of Dallas and the family of Bob and Janice Simpson of Ft. Worth. Ray Davis and Bob Simpson will serve as Co-Chairmen of the Board of Rangers Baseball Express. Greenberg has asked Hicks to continue his association with the Club as Chairman Emeritus.
"Nolan and I greatly appreciate Tom Hicks’ willingness to work beyond the deadline to complete the deal and his support for passing the torch from the Hicks family to our group," said Greenberg. "His actions speak eloquently to his commitment to serve the best interests of Rangers fans and the community." "We are fortunate to be assuming the stewardship of a franchise poised for greatness," Greenberg added. "The tremendous foundation of talent that has been assembled on both the major and minor league levels, combined with our passionate commitment to achieve excellence in every facet of the organization's operation, and the pent-up thirst for success we observe from our fans every day, creates the opportunity for the Rangers to become one of the great franchises in baseball."
Hicks and Greenberg both expressed their appreciation for the efforts of MLB, particularly the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, for facilitating this stage of the transaction.
Because the transaction is still subject to MLB approval and other matters, specific terms were not announced. The deal could be completed by April.
"In the short-term," said Hicks, "Chuck, Nolan and I will focus our attention not only on the transaction but on making sure the Club operates in a business-as-usual manner. Pitchers and catchers report in just 26 days."
"The efforts of the last few years are evident in the very positive direction in which the Rangers are heading," said Ryan. "We look forward to continuing that work for the 2010 season and beyond. I am excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this organization as we go forward."
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Raine Advisors and Perrella Weinberg Partners LP served as financial advisors, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP served as legal counsel, to Hicks Sports Group. McGuire, Craddock & Strother, P.C. served as real estate counsel and Cousins Properties Services LP served as a real estate consultant to Ballpark Real Estate.
For the buyers, Rangers Baseball Express, Evolution Media Capital and CAA Sports Media Venture served as financial advisors, and Foley & Lardner LLP and Sherrard, German & Kelly, P.C. served as legal counsel. Leib Advisors served as the tax and accounting advisors to the buyer.
A deal has been struck by Hicks Sports Group to sell the Texas Rangers to a 12-investor group headed by Chuck Greenberg and including team president and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, according to a source.
The final agreement comes eight days after a 30-day exclusive-negotiating window expired at midnight Jan. 22. But the sides continued to work, reportedly with some urging from commissioner Bud Selig, and the papers were signed moments ago.
No final price tag has been announced, though it is not believed to be as high as the $570 million that was reported by a national outlet earlier this week.
The deal, according to sources, cuts owner Tom Hicks almost entirely out of the picture. He will be a partner with Greenberg and Ryan, but his ownership share will be very small, sources said, and his spot on the new board of directors is in question.
Greenberg-Ryan could be approved as owners by Opening Day, if not a few weeks sooner. The deal must first meet the muster of baseball's executive and ownership committees, as well as the lenders who hold $525 million in Hicks Sports Group debt. The final step is getting the approval of 75 percent of team owners, which is considered a formality.
As general manager Jon Daniels again suggested could happen earlier this week, the Rangers have signed a catcher to a minor-league deal with an invitation to big-league camp. Toby Hall, 34, missed all of last season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, but he is expected to be at full strength when spring training opens.
Hall has a .262 career average with 46 homers and 269 RBI in 686 games with Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. He has thrown out 28 percent of would-be base stealers, a figure that ranks four among active catchers with 600 games played from 2000 to 2009.
The Rangers had been in the market for a catcher since last month, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia suffered some arm fatigue while coming back from surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. Saltalamacchia has resumed workouts and is on a throwing program, and has no concerns about being at full strength for the start of the spring training and definitely the regular season.
Hall gives the Rangers depth for the spring but will compete for a big-league roster spot with Saltamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. Max Ramirez, Emerson Frostad and Kevin Richardson will also be in big-league camp.
The sale of the Rangers continues with expectations that something could be finalized today. So far, a final agreement is still being negotiated.
Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler was the star attraction Thursday at the Academy Sports store in Grapevine. He was joined by Jon Daniels, Jim Sundberg, Darren Oliver and Doug Mathis. Interesting note: The right-handed-throwing Mathis signs autographs with his left hand, and the left-handed-throwing Oliver signs with his right hand. Seriously.
Back to Kinsler, who confirmed what his general manager had said earlier in the day. Daniels, during the Khalil Greene conference call, said that the players were fired up for the 2010 season after the changes to the roster. Daniels wasn't in ear-shot when Kinsler said the following about the off-season/2010 campaign.
"We basically covered every question we had going into the off-season, with very little spending money," Kinsler started. "JD made some very smart moves at the winter meetings. You never like to see a teammate get traded, especially someone who did so much for the organization in four years like Kevin [Millwood], but JD and the rest of his guys thought that move was necessary.
"When we were able to get Vlad [Guerrero]... the signings we had before that were exciting, but to be able to get Vlad, it just got us all excited. We realize that this is our year. It's all up to us now."
As for sliding down the order from the leadoff spot, Kinsler seems just fine with it.
"I'm not one-dimensional," said Kinsler, who was a 30-30 man in 2009. "I think I can do a lot of things. I think I can handle spots all through the order, whether I'm hitting second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh. It's looks like, right now, it's probably going to be fifth.
"Hitting behind Mike [Young], Josh [Hamiltion] and Vlad, I think I'm going to have a lot of RBI chances. Just as long as Vlad doesn't clear the bases every time."