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12/16/09 4:50 PM EST
Ryan isn't expecting major changes
Rangers' impending sale doesn't signal shift in approach
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- If Chuck Greenberg's group and Rangers owner Tom Hicks reach an agreement, and that agreement is approved by 75 percent of the other Major League teams, Greenberg will be the club's managing general partner and CEO. Nolan Ryan will be the club president. There will be a board of directors of seven to nine members that will oversee the running of the club. Hicks, whose family is likely to be one of the largest investors, is expected to be on the board, although Greenberg, as the CEO, will likely have final say in all big decisions. Ryan said on Wednesday that's likely how the Rangers' new ownership group will be structured. On Tuesday, Hicks officially announced that he would enter into exclusive negotiations with the group led by Greenberg and Ryan to buy the franchise. Although it's not a hard-and-fast deadline, the sides will take the next 30 days or so to work out any issues and come to a final agreement. The Greenberg group hopes to have everything in place by Opening Day, although Ryan said he doesn't expect many big changes immediately. "I think what you'll see is very little difference the first year," Ryan said. "Out of fairness, you want to get everybody in place, get a feel for the organization and review during the season so you have a good understanding of where you are and what you might be able to do. So I don't think you'll see any drastic changes. Then the following year if there are any areas of immediate need, you might see some changes." Ryan said the group will likely consist of approximately 12 partners, mostly individual and family investors from across the Metroplex who will represent the sixth ownership group in club history. "I think what we will have is a group of local investors who will put money into the ballclub and help relieve some of the financial burdens that the ballclub was under," Ryan said. "That will allow us to focus more on what's going on out on the field and try to be competitive and not be distracted with some of these other problems." Ryan said it's too early to tell how much more financial flexibility the Rangers will gain under the new ownership, where the payroll is headed and how aggressive the team will be in the free-agent market. "We, as a group of investors, haven't had a chance to meet all together at one time," Ryan said. "There will be a time to sit down and talk about the direction of the ballclub and decisions that make good business sense. It's too early to make a prediction, but the goal of everybody involved is to bring a winner in here and make good decisions that make good business sense." Ryan made it clear that the Rangers will continue to emphasize the need for scouting and player development and rely on players from within their own farm system. "I don't see us going against what we have already been doing," Ryan said. The change in ownership ends a nine-month period of uncertainty for the Rangers. Hicks has been looking since last Spring Training for investors to help him pay down the substantial debt of Hicks Sports Group. As this past season progressed, Hicks made it clear that he was looking for more than just minority investors. The possibility was raised that he would sell either majority interest or the whole team if needed to address the debt. Three groups emerged. Greenberg aligned himself with Ryan as far back as May. One group was led by Houston businessman Jim Crane and the other was headed by Dennis Gilbert, a successful Beverly Hills insurance agent who is well-known in baseball first as an agent and now as an executive with the White Sox. The process has been looming for months but wasn't decided until the final hours on Tuesday afternoon. Ryan said he did not know the Greenberg group was going to be successful until Hicks called him at 5:45 p.m. CT on Tuesday to give him the news. "Everybody knew a deal was coming and they knew it had been pared down to the three groups that had shown the most interest and made stronger bids than other groups," Ryan said. "As far as our employees, nobody really knew what to expect. We've had layoffs the last two years and with the economic situation and the uncertainty of change, it was obviously very stressful to our employees. "We feel very fortunate to have the group of employees that we have and the job they've done to pick up the slack."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.