09/12/09 3:50 PM ET
Hicks: MLB not restricting Rangers' funds
Owner insists financial decisions aren't influenced by league
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Hicks said that the Rangers asked for a $15 million line of credit earlier this summer as an advance toward future revenue coming in at the end of the season. He said the Rangers have taken advantage of only less than half that amount and that it has not had a negative effect on the club's operations.
"We are free to operate the Texas Rangers baseball operations in the normal course of business, consistent with our budget and normal business practices," Hicks said. "There is nothing from Major League Baseball that restricts us. There are no restrictions, as long as we stay within our budget.
"All decisions being made are being made by myself, [team president] Nolan Ryan and [general manager] Jon Daniels, and not by Major League Baseball."
Hicks said that since the Rangers obtained the line of credit from Major League Baseball, the club has been aggressive in spending more than $3 million in the Latin American free-agent markets. Among the players signed were pitcher/infielder Jurickson Profar from Curacao and Venezuelan shortstop Luis Sardinas. Both are highly rated prospects.
The Rangers did have one setback when they were unable to sign Matthew Purke, the high school pitcher who was their No. 1 pick in this past June's First-Year Player Draft. It marked the first time since Hicks bought the team in 1998 that the Rangers were unable to sign their first-round pick. Hicks has been resolute in signing top Draft picks since the Rangers let Barry Zito get away after taking him in the third round in 1998.
Hicks said that the decision regarding Purke was made by the Rangers without any influence by Major League Baseball. The Rangers offered $4 million but were told that Purke would not accept less than $6 million. He has since enrolled at TCU.
"We were very disappointed that we made a miscalculation in what it would take to sign our No. 1 Draft pick," Hicks said. "His slot was $1.8 million. We were prepared to pay up to $4 million, which would have been the third-highest bonus ever given to a high school player. That was something we thought he would agree to do.
"We were disappointed that the family insisted on $6 million. The Texas Rangers were not willing to do that. It had nothing to do with MLB restrictions. There is a clear misimpression we didn't sign Matt Purke because MLB wouldn't let us. That's not true. We didn't because of Tom Hicks, Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels. We were not willing to go to $6 million."
Hicks said that the Rangers have slightly more payroll flexibility than they had at the beginning of the season because attendance has been better than expected.
The Rangers did not make a major deal at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, party because they didn't want to part with their top young prospects and partly because they were focused only on impact players. They showed serious interest in Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Jarrod Washburn. There were some financial considerations that did limit the Rangers, but Hicks said they were no more a part of the scenario than in previous seasons.
"We're not going to spend money we don't have on players, but we haven't been doing that anyway for several years," Hicks said. "We're committed to our young players. We love the direction of the team. We have great young pitching. We like where we are going.
"As we go into the offseason, we expect to have a reasonable calculated progression of building a championship club."
Hicks made it clear he expects Kevin Millwood to be a part of that process as a member of next year's rotation. Millwood needs eight more innings to reach 180 for the season and guarantee his contract at $12 million for 2010.
Hicks bristled at any suggestion that the Rangers would take Millwood out of the rotation down the stretch to save $12 million for next year.
"As far as Kevin Millwood is concerned, we never gave any consideration to that," Hicks said. "We need him to be one of our leaders down the stretch. There have not been any thoughts or discussions with MLB about Kevin's contract for next year -- nor will there be. We expect Kevin to be in the rotation next year and have a strong finish to his contract."
Since the Trade Deadline, the Rangers have acquired catcher Ivan Rodriguez. They also made a run at Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre after Michael Young was hurt and were willing to spend money to get the deal done. But the trade fell through because of baseball reasons.
The Rangers will remain under Hicks' ownership for the foreseeable future. Hick has said that he is attempting to sell all or part of the team to help pay off debt in his Hicks Sports Group. There are interested parties, but there is nothing imminent and any kind of sale may not happen until well into next season.
"We're undergoing a process," Hicks said. "We're selling either a part of ownership or the whole thing. To sell it all is not my preference. I want to stay a part of this in some way. But we're going to sell what needs to be sold to reduce the deficit.
"Until then, the Rangers will continue to operate under the normal course of business operations."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.