Dodgers lack cash for May 31 payroll

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball believes the Los Angeles Dodgers do not have enough money to make their end of May payroll, a person familiar with the team’s finances told The Associated Press.

The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because MLB’s investigation of the team’s finances under owner Frank McCourt is ongoing. The Los Angeles Times first reported that the Dodgers lacked the cash to make their May 31 payroll.

The person said that if the Dodgers don’t have the money, MLB would step in and make payroll.

“The fact that we had obligations coming due in 2011 was no surprise to us and no surprise to Major League Baseball,” Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said in a statement to the AP.

McCourt has publicly complained Selig has refused to approve a 17-year contract with Fox that could be worth more than $3 billion, a deal that would include a front-loaded payment of about $300 million.

“We developed a plan which eventually became the Fox transaction. We’ve been working on that plan, in different versions, for the last six months,” McCourt said. “That is a transaction that is now completely negotiated, ready to be signed, and ready to be closed. It’s the series of delays in allowing us to close this transaction that has created the problem here. Otherwise, there would be no problem here. My recent investment into the club was necessitated by the delay.”

The commissioner’s office effectively took control of the team on April 20, and former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer was appointed the team’s monitor six days later by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Schieffer must approve any transaction over $5,000.

Based on its opening-day payroll of $103.8 million, the Dodgers’ payroll for its major league roster in the second half of May will be approximately $8.25 million. The figure includes 16 days salary, but not any signing bonus payments that happen to fall due.

McCourt, involved in a contentious divorce, took a $30 million loan from Fox, the team’s television partner, in the weeks leading up to Selig’s decision to appoint a monitor. Baseball was concerned that McCourt was removing assets from the franchise, once considered one of the premier teams in the sport.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.