Joe Torre takes a swing at Dodgers ownership, walks from MLB post

Joe Torre has resigned as Major League Baseball's executive vice president for baseball operations to join a group trying to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Joe Torre has resigned as Major League Baseball's executive vice president for baseball operations to join a group trying to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Joe Torre has resigned from his executive vice president post with Major League Baseball to pursue ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a Rick Caruso-led group that will be going to bat to bid on the team.

The league announced Wednesday that 71-year-old Torre, who managed the Dodgers from 2008 to 2010, has joined the roster of a financial group built by real estate developer Caruso aimed at purchasing his former team.

Praising the development mogul's business sense and dedication to the people of Los Angeles, Torre said in a statement, "In Rick I found a partner who understands consumers and fully appreciates that the Dodgers are a treasured L.A. institution."

The Dodgers were put up for sale by owner Frank McCourt last November, five months after the team filed for bankruptcy. The agreement between McCourt and MLB requires the team be sold by April 30 of this year to coincide with McCourt's $131 million divorce settlement deadline.

Initial bids for the team buy are due to Frank McCourt's investment banker, The Blackstone Group, by Jan. 23. There is speculation that the Dodgers' price tag will break the $845 million record for a baseball franchise purchase, currently held by the Ricketts family for the 2009 acquisition of the Chicago Cubs.

Caruso, lauding Torre's winning track record and experience, 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."

Wednesday announcement that Torre would join Caruso comes as the billionaire developer also considers a run for mayor of Los Angeles.

A Caruso spokesman gave no indication whether the baseball bid would influence Caruso’s decision to run for mayor. It’s clear, however, that it would be very difficult for someone to rehabilitate the Dodgers and campaign at the same time. The election is in 14 months.

Major League Baseball is expected to decide on a new owner by April. Formal bids are due Jan. 24.

In one early poll, Caruso reportedly placed fourth in a crowded field of mayoral candidates. The brash, dapper developer is best known for building shopping malls he calls “centers of town” such as the Grove in L.A. and the Americana at Brand in Glendale. Last year, Caruso Affiliated announced plans for a half-a-billion dollar shopping complex on the Las Vegas strip.

Other potential Dodgers suitors 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.

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