New York Baseball commissioner Bud Selig called off an owners' meeting set to approve the sales of the Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos and instead scheduled a telephone conference call for today's vote.
John Henry, whose group was given approval last month to buy the Boston Red Sox for $660 million from the Jean R. Yawkey Trust, is selling the Marlins to Jeffrey Loria for $158.5 million.
Loria is selling the Montreal franchise to Baseball Expos LP a Delaware limited partnership owned by the other 29 teams for $120 million, with baseball loaning him the difference between the prices.
Both sales were expected to gain overwhelming approval, and baseball intended to announce a new management for the Expos following the call.
Selig at first contemplated having owners meet today in the Chicago area, but some teams didn't want to travel to a meeting for a vote where the outcome was certain. Some teams already have mailed in their votes, and the rest will vote during the conference call, several baseball officials said Monday.
Meanwhile, Selig will not testify at Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the sport's antitrust exemption and instead will send his chief lawyer, Bob DuPuy.
DuPuy and union head Donald Fehr are among witnesses scheduled to appear at the hearing, a spokesman for committee chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said Monday.
Also scheduled to testify are Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, Minnesota Deputy Attorney General Lori Swanson, and Stan Brand, a lobbyist for the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the governing body of the minor leagues.
KC, Febles avoid arbitration
Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Royals avoided arbitration with second baseman Carlos Febles, agreeing Monday to a $775,000, one-year contract.
Febles, 25, had a knee injury last season and played only 79 games, hitting .236 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs. Febles, who made $310,000 last year, had asked for $1.1 million in arbitration and had been offered $675,000.
Shortstop Neifi Perez is the only Royals player remaining in arbitration. He has asked for a raise from $3.55 million to $5 million. Kansas City has offered $4.1 million.
Tommy John III signs pact
Schaumburg, Ill. Tommy John III, the son of the former major league pitcher who won 288 games during a 26-year career, signed Monday with the Schaumburg Flyers of the independent Northern League.
John III, 24, will be pitching in his second season of professional baseball. He was 7-5 with a 2.85 in 15 starts last season for the Tyler (Texas) Roughnecks of the Independent All-American Association last year.
Rangers, Sprague agree
Arlington, Texas Infielder Ed Sprague agreed Monday to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers and was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. Sprague, 34, spent most of last season with Seattle, hitting .298 with two homers and 16 RBI sin 45 games. The Rangers start spring training Friday and when all players report Feb. 21, the team is due to have 64 players in camp, the most in Rangers' history.
Astros add pitcher Pichardo
Houston The Houston Astros have signed right-hander Hipolito Pichardo to a one-year contract Monday. Pichardo was 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA in 30 relief appearances last season with Boston. Before joining the Red Sox in 2000, he spent his previous seven seasons in Kansas City. The Dominican Republic native missed the entire 1999 season recovering from surgery on his right elbow. He has a career record of 50-43 with a 4.41 ERA.