Fenway Sports Group is reportedly in advanced talks to purchase the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo and Laine Higgins.
Per Lombardo and Higgins, the terms being discussed have yet to be disclosed, but “a deal could be finalized later this week, assuming the talks don’t fall apart.”
Owned and operated by Red Sox principal owner John Henry since it was founded in 2021, Fenway Sports Group is the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Sports Management, FSG Real Estate, Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, and the New England Sports Network.
As noted by Lombardo and Higgins, RedBird Capital Partners — an investment firm launched by investor Gerry Cardinale and Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane — agreed to invest $750 million into Fenway Sports Group in exchange for an 11% ownership stake in the company earlier this year.
Around that same time, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James joined FSG as a partner, and The Boston Globe reported that Henry and Co. were looking to add other North American and European sports franchises to their portfolio.
It now appears that the Penguins are at least one of those franchises, as Lombardo and Higgins report that the team’s owners — namely Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux and investor Ron Burkle — were interested in selling.
The Lemieux and Burkle-led group has owned the Penguins since 1999. They lifted the team out of bankruptcy upon purchasing and have seen them win three Stanley Cups since then.
That said, the Penguins were recently valued by Sportico at $845 million, which ranks 15th among the 32 NHL teams.
According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, “it’s unclear how much Fenway Sports Group is paying for the team or how many limited partners are staying on.”
In other words, more will likely be revealed as the sale nears its completion, so stay tuned for that.
(Picture of Linda Pizzuti Henry, John Henry, and Tom Werner: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is set to become a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox, according to The Boston Globe’s Michael Silverman.
Per Silverman, James was recently introduced as one of Fenway Sports Group’s newest partners and “now owns an undisclosed amount of FSG shares after previously holding an approximately 2 percent share of the Liverpool soccer franchise since 2011.”
Fenway Sports Group, which is operated by Red Sox principal owner John Henry, owns the likes of the Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Park, Roush Fenway Racing, Fenway Sports Management, and NESN.
By joining FSG as a partner, James, 36, now becomes a part-owner of the Red Sox as well as those previously listed subsidiaries.
Sliverman adds that Maverick Carter, James’ longtime friend and business partner, is also becoming a partner in FSG, making the pair the first Black partners in the company’s history.
This all comes as FSG recently “approved a $750 million private investment that would make RedBird Capital Partners its third-largest partner,” Silverman writes.
While this deal has been approved by FSG, it also needs to be approved by Major League Baseball, which, as Silverman notes, “could take several weeks.”
With the addition of James’ brand value and RedBird’s financial muscle, FSG could very well expand its portfolio by adding on to its already extensive list of properties.
Silverman reports that FSG — which was recently valued by Forbes at $6.6 billion — is currently interested in acquiring “NFL and NBA franchises, another European soccer club, NHL, MLS, WNBA, and NWSL teams, plus sports betting, esports, and data analytics companies.”
(Picture of LeBron James: Aaron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
The Red Sox officially re-hired Alex Cora as their next manager, the club announced earlier Friday evening.
Cora, who turned 45 last month, signed a two-year contract with the Sox that includes club options for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
The native of Puerto Rico was originally named the 47th manager in Boston’s franchise history back in October 2017. His first stint with the Red Sox, highlighted by a World Series-winning campaign in 2018, came to an end in January when the two sides agreed to mutually part ways in the midst of Major League Baseball’s investigation regarding Cora’s role in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal.
Now, nearly 10 months after he left the club, Cora is back and excited to manage once again.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” said Cora in a statement released by the Red Sox. “This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognize how fortunate I am to lead this team once again. Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organization was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud. I owe John Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, Sam Kennedy, Chaim Bloom and Brian O’Halloran my gratitude for giving me another chance. I am eager to get back to work with our front office, coaches, and especially our players. Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October.”
The process of re-hiring Cora did not last all that long for the Sox, as they were free to interview him for the opening as soon as this year’s World Series camt to a close late last month.
Still, in a separate statement released by the team, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom acknowledged that conversations with Cora about a potential reunion were “lengthy, intense, and emotional.”
“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” said Bloom. “The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game. We considered a very impressive slate of candidates – the brightest managerial prospects in the game today. Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn’t yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well. Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. My belief is that every candidate should be considered in full: strengths and weaknesses, accomplishments and failures. That is what I did with Alex in making this choice. He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance. I join our whole organization in welcoming Alex back to Boston and Fenway Park.”
Cora and Bloom were able to get acquainted a little bit prior to the former’s departure from the Sox in January, but they will now have the opportunity to get to know one another even better.
As for when Cora will be re-introduced to the media via a press/Zoom conference, it looks like that will not take place until next week.
It should be interesting to see what kind of questions Cora and whoever else is on the dais with him will have to field from reporters once that presser does take place.
Regardless of who the Red Sox tabbed as their next manager, it was going to be a bold decision.
On one hand, there’s Alex Cora, who managed the Sox for two years before he and the team mutually agreed to part ways in January due to the role he played in the Houston Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing fiasco. Cora was ultimately handed down a one-year suspension by Major League Baseball in April. That season-long ban came to an end late last month, which allowed the 45-year-old to interview for any managerial opening.
On the other hand, there’s Sam Fuld, who has no experience managing in the majors, let alone the minor-leagues. The 38-year-old, like Cora, is a former major-league veteran. Rather than follow the same kind of path Cora embarked upon in his post-playing days, though, Fuld began the second leg of his baseball career in the Phillies’ front office.
Philadelphia initially hired the New Hampshire native in November 2017 to serve as player information coordinator before promoting him to director integrative baseball performance back in January.
In his time with the Phillies, Fuld has served as a conduit who worked to foster communication between players, coaches, and front office staff while also “[integrating] advanced metrics into game planning.”
As intriguing as his resume may appear, Fuld did not have the same luxury as Cora in that he was already familiar with most of the Red Sox’ higher-ups. Yes, he may have a “tight” relationship with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on account of the time they spent together with the Rays, but that likely does not amount to much when comparing it to Cora’s relationship with the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy.
So, in the end, the Red Sox went with what they were already familiar with: a known commodity in the form of Cora, who led the club to a historic World Series title in 2018 and is well regarded by players, ownership, and fans alike. The red flags with Cora were certainly there due to what he may have done during his time Houston’s bench coach, but the Sox do not seem all too concerned with that. They made it abundantly clear Cora was at the top of their list when team officials flew out to Puerto Rico to meet with him last week while other candidates traveled to Boston to interview for the opening.
It’s unclear at this point if Bloom would have preferred to bring in his own guy in Fuld and was overruled by club ownership on this particular decision. However, it is worth noting that before Cora initially left the Sox earlier this year, he and Bloom seemed to get along swimmingly during the latter’s first few months on the job as chief baseball officer.
Whoever may have made the final, bold decision on this matter, one thing is for certain: Cora is back managing the Red Sox, and he is likely here to stay.
The Red Sox are entering the final stages of their weeks-long search for a new manager, and according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Phillies director of integrative baseball performan Sam Fuld are currently viewed as the favorites to land the job.
In addition to Heyman’s report, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote earlier Thursday that the Red Sox have begun narrowing the field of potential candidates to five — Cora, Fuld, Marlins bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson, Yankes bench coach Carlos Mendoza, and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly — to three, “and by Thursday evening, the search process was believed to be down to no more than two finalists.”
Those two finalists in this case would be none other than Cora and Fuld; one of whom already has a rapport with Red Sox brass while the other does not.
Cora also has two years of major-league managerial experience with the Sox as compared to Fuld’s zero.
The 45-year-old led Boston to a World Series title in 2018 and a third-place finish in 2019 and was seemingly well-regarded by players and ownership alike.
However, as Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ illegal stealing of signs unfolded over the winter, it was revealed that Cora, who served as A.J. Hinch’s manager in 2017, may have played an integral role in the Astros’ schemes.
As a result of said investigation, Cora and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways in January, approximately three months before he was handed down a one-year suspension for his actions in Houston.
By the time Cora’s season-long ban came to an end at the conclusion of this year’s World Series, he was almost immediately labeled as the favorite to retain his old position with the Red Sox.
Most recently, a party of club officials that included the likes of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran flew to Puerto Rico last Friday to speak with Cora in-person about the managerial opening.
The fact this meeting took place may lead one to believe it is Cora’s job to lose at this point, but it would appear that Fuld is also being seriously considered, per Heyman.
Fuld, a native of Durham, N.H., has spent the past three seasons in the Phillies’ front office, first serving as major-league player information coordinator before being promoted to the club’s director of integrative baseball performance in January.
A veteran of eight major-league seasons, the soon-to-be 39-year-old’s playing career included a three-year stint with the Rays from 2011 through 2013.
In Tampa Bay, Fuld built a strong and “tight” relationship with Bloom when the latter served as an executive there, one in which could help his case for the Sox’ managerial opening.
While Cora and Fuld share many of the same qualities, such as their abilities to successfully utilize analytics and foster communication between players and front office staff, Cora may have the upper hand due to experience alone.
Cora has already ingrained himself within the Red Sox organization. Players such as J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez gush about him, ownership gushes about him, even Bloom seemed to get along with him in their short time together last offseason.
Fuld, meanwhile, is somewhat of a complete stranger to the organization outside of his connection with Bloom. That would not seem to bode well for him, but if finding Ron Roenicke’s successor is truly Bloom’s ‘call to make,’ Fuld would be an obvious fit if he wants to bring in his own guy.
Whether Bloom has final say in this decision or he will be overruled by the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy has yet to be determined. One thing is for certain, though, and that is the notion that the Red Sox’ search for their next manager is nearly complete.
As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo alluded to, “Friday [is looking like] a potential decision day.” We will have to wait and see on that. I still say it’s Cora.
Want to own a share of the Red Sox? Well, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo and Miriam Gottfried, that could become a realistic possibility relatively soon.
Per Lombardo and Gottfried, Red Sox principal owner John Henry is in preliminary talks with blank-check firm RedBall Acquisition Corp. to take Fenway Sports Group public.
The plan would be for RedBall to raise $1 billion in funds that would coincide with the $575-plus million the firm raised over the summer. With those funds, RedBall in turn would be able to purchase a stake in FSG which would be worth no more than 25% of the company.
Because talks between the two sides are still ongoing, it is worth mentioning that this deal could fall apart. If talks do not fall through, though, the Red Sox could become one of the few publicly traded American sports franchises. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers are a prime example of one.
Henry, who turned 71 last month, originally purchased the Red Sox for $660 million in February 2002. Since that time, Henry has seen his club end an 86-year championship drought and win four World Series titles.
According to Forbes, the Red Sox are currently worth $3.3 billion, while Fenway Sports Group, which includes the Sox, Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Park, and New England Sports Network, is worth a total of $6.6 billion.
FSG going public with RedBall would reportedly raise its value to approximately $8 billion including debt. For more details on this, I would recommend checking out the above tweet.
Former Red Sox star Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers are in agreement on a 12-year, $365 million contract extension, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Outfielder Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers are in agreement on a 12-year, $365 million contract extension, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Combined with the one-year, $27 million deal he’s currently under, the total is 13 years and $392 million.
Per Passan, because Betts is under contract for $27 million ($10 million in prorated salary) this season, the total value of his extension with Los Angeles is $392 million over the next 13 years. Also from Passan:
Mookie Betts’ deal with the Dodgers adds $365 million in new money, topping the previous extension record of $360 million signed by Mike Trout, and will run through the 2032 season, sources tell ESPN. It also includes a record $65 million signing bonus.
The Mookie Betts contract extension, which tacks 12 years and $365M onto his $27M salary (of which pro rata pay is $10M) this year, is stunning. While deferrals in the deal are expected, the sheer size of the number — $392M — illustrates how much the Dodgers believe in Betts.
Prior to being dealt to Los Angeles in February, Betts and the Red Sox were reportedly $120 million apart in extension talks, as Boston had offered the 27-year-old $300 million over 10 years and Betts countered with $420 million over 12 years, according to WEEI’s Lou Merloni.
The two sides obviously could not reach a compromise though, as the 2018 American League MVP was eventually traded to the Dodgers with left-hander David Price in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo and prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.
As his tenure with the Red Sox was winding down, it appeared as though Betts was set on becoming a free agent this winter. But, due to the financial insecurities across baseball that have stemmed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps the Tennessee native had a change in heart and decided to take the money when he could.
With this record-setting extension, Betts will be under contract through the end of the 2032 season. By then, the former fifth-round pick will be 39 years old.
This news also marks the end of any speculation that Betts could re-sign with the Red Sox as a free agent this winter, as had been the hope among fans when the four-time All-Star was traded away.
If Betts continues to be as productive as he has since making his first Opening Day roster in 2015, he’ll likely be on a Hall of Fame trajectory. In other words, he’ll eventually be donning a Dodgers cap on his plaque in Cooperstown.
Even after five months, it’s still somewhat mind-boggling that the Red Sox would trade a player of Betts’ caliber. Without taking the financial aspects into consideration, which are important, Betts is just about everything you would want in a professional baseball player. From being a once-undervalued homegrown talent to an MVP and perennial All-Star. he was the perfect face of the franchise for Boston. It’s just too bad John Henry and Co. didn’t value that as much as the Dodgers clearly do.
Per Drellich, these pay cuts are for those employees making $50,000 or more per year and are tiered in the following fashion.
“Salary of $50K-99K is 20%
$100 to $499K is 25%
$500K-plus is 30%”
As Drellich notes, the employees who make $100,000 are being treated in just about the same way those making upwards of $500,000 are, which has led to the following statement from a Red Sox staffer:
“People are livid.”
This news was apparently broken at a company meeting held by the Red Sox on Friday night, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. In this particular meeting, the club announced that there would be no furloughs or layoffs, just salary cuts for those employees making upwards of $50,000 as previously mentioned.
Earlier Friday, the Red Sox announced that 22 minor-league players had been released on Thursday, so it definitely appears that John Henry, Tom Werner, and Co. are trying to cut down on costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the 2020 baseball season on hold for the time being.
Major League Baseball owners have approved a proposal from the league for the 2020 season to present to the MLB Players’ Union, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The two sides are expected to meet sometime on Tuesday to discuss said plan.
MLB owners have approved a proposal for the 2020 season to present to the players’ union, source tells The Athletic. Meeting expected between union and league tomorrow.
This marks another step towards potentially getting Major League Baseball this year, and as ESPN’s Jeff Passan states, “now is when it starts to get serious.”
Of course, where things go from here depends on how the players’ union feels about all this.
For starters, “Because games, at least initially, will be played without fans, the players’ would be asked to accept a further reduction in pay, most likely by agreeing to a set percentage of revenues for this season only.”
This idea of revenue sharing is apparently a ‘non-starter’ in any proposal the union gets from the league, per The New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Other hurdles include “making players comfortable with protocols/personnel/equipment that play can resume safely,” as well as where teams will play their games.
Current MLB proposal would still try to have postseason in Oct at home fields if possible. Concerned about 2d wave of Covid-19 coming in cooler weather/disrputing playoffs. Plus concerned TV landscape for sports could be jammed with other leagues/sports re-sked in Nov.
2 key hurdles to an agreement: 1. making players comfortable with protocols/personnel/equipment that play can resume safely. 2. Can the sides agree how players will be paid. MLB offering rev sharing plan. Union saying that is a non-starter.
More specifically, according to Rosenthal, “Teams unable to open in their cities [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] temporarily would relocate, either to their spring training sites or major-league parks in other parts of the country. The same would apply to spring training 2.0 if the league decides to use mostly home parks as opposed to returning to Florida and Arizona.”
The problem with this is that “Not all clubs agree they should train in their home parks, believing spring locales offer a less densely populated, more controlled environment.”
Regionalized schedules consisting of anywhere between 78-82 games and expanded playoffs have also been discussed, while a universal designated hitter and expanded rosters could also be implemented if there is indeed baseball in 2020.
That final part, for now, is still up in the air, though. And although I can’t say for sure, it would appear that the players’ union has final say on the matter. We should hear more about where the MLBPA goes with this on Tuesday.
For the most part, the uniforms donned by the Red Sox have remained unchanged over the last few decades.
There have been subtle changes here and there, such as the addition of a blue alternate road jersey in 2009 or the decision to go from blue lettering back to red lettering on the primary road jersey in 2014, but out of the 30 clubs that Major League Baseball is comprised of, the Red Sox have one of the more classic looks in the game, as they should.
Still, that has not stopped team higher-ups from discussing how to further modernize the Sox’ look moving forward, especially now that Nike took over as MLB’s official uniform outfitter last winter.
“We are looking at changes as we go forward,” team president Sam Kennedy told The Athletic’sChad Jennings. “[The changes will be] likely geared to get us to a uniform that is geared towards high performance. We will always be respectful of our incredible traditional look and feel, but we are always open to new and different concepts as time goes by.”
With Nike providing the Red Sox with their uniforms for the foreseeable future, the hope is that more technology can be implemented into any new uniform so that players can be more comfortable while actually playing baseball.
For instance, according to team executive vice president of partnerships Troup Parkinson, Red Sox ownership is really more focused on fit than anything else in talks about potential new uniforms.
“They think that, for example, Nike can bring tons of technology to the fit and hopefully help the performance of the athlete,” Parkinson said. “[It’s] happened in basketball and in football, but, amazingly, in baseball it hasn’t. The [players], if you talk to them, they will say the uniform doesn’t fit.”
Per Jennings, Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner are “heavily involved” in decisions regarding the club’s uniforms and overall aesthetic look. Such decisions include changing primary logos, adding alternate jerseys, changing up batting practice looks, and sticking with batting helmets with a shiny finish rather than a matte one.
“John and Tom are both very engaged in uniform design,” said Kennedy. “They both have a passion for the look and feel of the brand. In terms of the Red Sox, while we have not made dramatic changes in our time here, we had had some relatively minor adjustments, driven by ownership’s desire to preserve our traditional look while modernizing a bit.”
To add on to that, Parkinson himself said that he expects subtle changes to the Red Sox’ uniforms to come at some point in the ‘near future.’
As Jennings puts it, these potential changes “likely won’t be wholesale or drastic changes, but they will be noticeable, especially for a fan base that’s grown attached to the current look. Which is the old look. Which is the classic look.”
What could these changes to Boston’s uniforms look like? Well, it’s tough to say.
As things stand currently, the Red Sox employ a five-jersey rotation (home whites, road grays, red home alternates, navy blue road alternates, and those special Patriots’ Day whites) to go along with white pants at home and gray pants on the road. All these uniforms are worn with the standard navy blue cap with a red ‘B’ front and center.
The home whites with the arching ‘Red Sox’ across the chest and the red piping around the collar and down the front of the jersey, for the most part, have remained a constant throughout the club’s storied history. They went with pullover tops and a predominantly red cap for a little bit there in the 1970’s, but that trend did not last into the following decade.
The road grays, meanwhile, have either featured ‘Boston’ across the chest in red or navy blue font since the turn of the century. The ‘Hanging Sox’ logo was added to the left sleeve of the road jerseys in 2010 and have been present since.
In terms of alternate looks, the red alternates worn at home have been in rotation since 2003 and have since been given a more modern look through the removal of the original blue piping that went around the collar and down the middle of the jersey.
As mentioned earlier, the navy blue alternates worn on the road were added to the mix in 2009. For whatever reason, they do not feature the ‘Hanging Sox’ logo on the left sleeve.
All in all, it’s a pretty solid mix of tradition and color rolled into one set of uniforms. It’s somewhat difficult to see how something already so good could be improved upon.
Then again, Parkinson told Jennings that “he actually likes to hear unusual uniform and branding ideas from outside companies (like Nike in this case) – those outsiders presumably are not as emotionally attached to the current look, and might offer much-needed perspective – but those partners rarely, if ever, suggest anything too far outside the box.”
Nike has proven to get creative with the looks of other historic franchises across different sports while also keeping that team’s history and tradition in tact, like with the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers.
If I could throw out some ideas here, I’d say that I would not mind seeing the Red Sox go back to wearing gray jerseys with the navy blue ‘Boston’ across the chest while on the road. That incorporates more of the team’s legacy into their look and may be nostalgic for older fans.
Speaking of nostalgia, it’s been said before, but bring back the 70’s throwbacks that we saw briefly in 2015 and 2016. It’s definitely a fun look.
Also, could it be possible that the Red Sox would remove the red piping from their primary home jerseys? It’s the only jersey in the current mix that still features piping, although it is arguably their most classic feature.
Lastly, I’ve written about it in the past, but it would be interesting to see the Sox wear the red jerseys on the road and the blue jerseys at home. Mix it up a little, you know?
Other than that, I’m definitely curious to see what tweaks Nike and the Red Sox have in store for the team’s look. Not exactly sure when any changes will be revealed to the public, though.