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McCourt mum on Fielder, calls Dodgers sale interest 'fantastic'

January 12, 2012 | 12:44 pm

Yes, Prince Fielder is still available. Yes, the Dodgers could still use him.

But, to the question of whether the Dodgers might pursue Fielder, outgoing owner Frank McCourt laughed.

"We're not going to talk about that," McCourt said Thursday at the Major League Baseball owners' meetings.

McCourt appears focused on selling the Dodgers, so much so that the Milwaukee Brewers invited Fielder to return on a one-year deal to position himself for a mega-deal from the new Dodgers owner next winter. Scott Boras, the agent for Fielder, showed no interest in the overture, according to a person familiar with the discussion but not willing to publicly discuss negotiations.

The Dodgers are expected to command more than $1 billion, perhaps much more. The current record sale price for a MLB franchise is $845 million, for the Chicago Cubs in 2009.

If the Dodgers signed Fielder for, say, $150 million, that would add $150 million to the liabilities a new owner would assume. That could persuade a prospective buyer to lower his bid accordingly.

More than a dozen parties have expressed interest in buying the Dodgers, with civic icons and assorted billionaires joining the derby almost daily.

"It's fantastic," McCourt said. "It doesn't surprise me at all. It's a great franchise."

When McCourt bought the team in 2004 -- at a time the Dodgers were losing about $50 million a year -- there were few other interested parties. Commissioner Bud Selig said he is pleased with the competitors in the Dodgers sweepstakes.

"The number of groups is impressive," Selig said. "The people are impressive. They have remarkable interest.

"What does it show? The manifestation of how good the sport is. It's come a long way since the last time [the Dodgers were for sale]. It is a very positive sign."

So positive, in fact, that McCourt voted in support of Selig's contract extension Thursday, even after taking the Dodgers into bankruptcy in an effort to retain control of the team, over Selig's objections.

With the Dodgers' legal battles with MLB and Fox Sports all but over, Selig said he believes McCourt can meet the April 30 deadline to sell the team.

"I think we're on track," Selig said. "I feel very confident about that."

After an 807-day span during which McCourt fought MLB, Fox and/or his ex-wife in court, he now has settled with all three parties.

"Litigation is only a last resort," McCourt said.


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-- Bill Shaikin in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Photo: Prince Fielder. Credit: Jeff Roberson / Associated Press.