LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- According to a ruling Tuesday by a California judge, the Dodgers may no longer belong to Frank McCourt alone. It seems his ex-wife Jamie may have claim to them as well, further muddling the ownership situation.
Good thing the Dodgers have already finished most of their offseason shopping.
Or maybe that was the idea.
According to sources who have spoken to the team, some part of the motivation for shopping early was to avoid the possibility that a legal ruling could cause the money to dry up. General manager Ned Colletti was told at the end of the season that the payroll could rise from where it was on opening day 2010 (about $102 million).
Colletti quickly re-signed left-handed starter Ted Lilly, then also signed right-handers Jon Garland and Hiroki Kuroda, shortstop Juan Uribe and catcher Rod Barajas. This week, he was finalizing a deal with pitcher Vicente Padilla, and was still looking to add an outfielder. They'd like to re-sign Scott Podsednik, but think he has been asking for too much money.
According to the Los Angeles Times , Tuesday's ruling by Judge Scott Gordon could keep the team in legal limbo for several more years. Gordon ruled that a 2004 marital agreement signed by the McCourts was invalid, but the Times suggested that Frank McCourt could either appeal the ruling or use a different legal strategy to prove his sole ownership of the team.
Many people in baseball have hoped that an impasse in the case would force the McCourts to sell the team.