Selig: Moorad's stake in D-backs sold

Selig: Moorad's stake in D-backs sold

PHOENIX -- Commissioner Bud Selig said on Saturday that the sale of Padres chief executive Jeff Moorad's general partnership in the D-backs has been completed.

Moorad's approximate 8 percent of the franchise was sold for $21 million, said a source with knowledge of the negotiations. The share was absorbed by the current D-backs partnership headed by Ken Kendrick, the managing general partner.

"That's been completed," Selig said as he chatted with the media during the Brewers-D-backs game at Maryvale Ballpark. "Fortunately, that's another issue I don't have to worry about."

Moorad, reached by phone on Saturday, confirmed that the deal was complete, but that it wouldn't necessarily accelerate his ownership of the Padres. Moorad is the club's chief executive and voting partner with Major League Baseball at all meetings.

"That's water under the bridge," Moorad said about the D-backs deal.

Moorad and his group own 49 percent of the Padres, and according to his agreement with majority owner John Moores, still have three years to complete the purchase. Moorad said he was considering buying Moores out early, but not in time for the start of the regular season on March 31.

"That won't happen," said Moorad. "We may very well accelerate it, but we've made no decision on when that will be."

Moorad resigned as D-backs chief executive on Jan. 4, 2009, to explore an exclusive window to purchase a portion of the Padres from Moores, who was in the middle of a divorce from his wife, Becky. The divorce has recently been finalized.

By March 26, 2009, Moorad's group paid $100 million for an initial 35 percent of the franchise and by contract increased that investment to 49 percent prior to the start of this past season. At the time of the initial transaction, the Padres were valued at $530 million, including debt.

Moores, a Texas native, has expressed interest in purchasing the Astros, but can't move forward until his majority ownership of the Padres is divested. Astros owner Drayton McLane hired the New York investment firm Allen & Co. to help him sell his club this past November. Allen & Co. is also working with Fred Wilpon as he attempts to sell a minority share of the Mets.

Moorad and the D-backs had been at odds about the value of his former share for two years, and the matter was turned over to the Commissioner's Office. The two sides independently came to agreement just prior to the opening of Spring Training.

Josh Byrnes, who was dismissed as Arizona's general manager last season, also owns a very small percentage of the franchise. He was hired by Moorad in December as the Padres' vice president of baseball operations and must also divest himself of his D-backs share, Selig said.

"That's a situation that does need to be settled and I'm sure it will be," Selig said.

Byrnes left the D-backs with five years to go on his contract as the general manager.

In another matter, Selig said on Saturday that he has not been in touch with Ryozo Kato, the Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball, since the devastating 8.9 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday. The two Commissioners are scheduled to speak at a forum at Yale University on March 24, Selig said.

"It has been planned for a long time and I've really been looking forward to it," he said. "We'll see now what happens to it, but no, I haven't spoken to him."

MLB's ties to Japan run deep. MLB has an office in Tokyo headed by Jim Small. Through 2010, there were 12 Japanese natives playing for MLB teams, including Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners and Hideki Matsui of the A's, and 43 Japanese players have over time stocked Major League rosters. MLB has also opened the regular season three times at the Tokyo Dome, the last time when the Red Sox played the A's in 2008.

About the extent of the damage and report of widespread death, Selig said: "This has been shocking. I watched the news this morning for quite a while. When you see something like that it's hard to fathom. We have a lot of people over there and players making contact, making sure their families are all right. There's one village where 9,500 people are missing. It's just really something."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.