SAN DIEGO -- John Moores, the long-time majority owner of the San Diego Padres, said in a recent exclusive interview that he has stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the club and some of his commitments to Major League Baseball. Moores is in the process of selling his 90 percent share of the franchise during a five-year period to Jeff Moorad and a group of more than a dozen partners. Moores structured the deal so he could remain the club's control person at owners' meetings until the new group purchased a majority share, but he said he's also going to pass that baton to Moorad, who replaced Sandy Alderson as chief executive when the sale became official on March 26.
"I don't want to overstay my welcome," said Moores, who purchased his share of the team in 1995 for $80 million. "Right now I'm going to keep as low a visibility in baseball as I can. If an issue comes up where the club needs to take a vote on something or Commissioner [Bud] Selig and [MLB president] Bob DuPuy need my opinion, I'll be there the next day. But if it's just business as usual for baseball, Jeff can represent the club." Moorad's group purchased about a third of the team for $100 million this past March. The $525 million sale has been prefunded, Moorad said, and the next payment of $45 million is due and will be made this coming March. The overall figure includes considerable debt service, which will be inherited by the new owners. "We're financing the program," said Moores, who's not charging interest on the deal even though Moorad's group is buying the club over five years rather than in one shot. "When [Moorad] makes two more payments then he becomes the control person. I keep it until then, but I decided it didn't make much sense for me to have much visibility because Jeff is clearly moving toward closing the deal." Moorad was a general partner and chief executive of the D-backs until he resigned earlier this year to pursue his purchase of the Padres. He still has about a 10-percent stake in the Arizona club, which must be divested. Under baseball rules, no owner in one club can maintain more than a 5 percent position in another club. The Commissioner's Office is overseeing the sale of Moorad's stake and it's still in abeyance. Moores has been in and out of San Diego this season, spending most of his time shuttling between Houston and Austin, Texas, overseeing his software companies. He was in San Diego recently and met with the Moorad over breakfast to discuss the future of the organization. Moores said that when the time comes that Moorad buys out his majority position, "I'll be just another minority owner." Moorad said he still relies on Moores' expertise and will continue to do so. "I had breakfast with him and outlined nine or 10 bullet points of projects we are working on, different parts of the business that I know he has interest in," Moorad said. "He's asked to be informed about key developments. Obviously, that's what we'll seek to do. He'll remain the chairman of the club throughout our process." And when that process ends? "We haven't discussed it," Moorad said. "But, as far as I'm concerned, he's the Owner Emeritus here as long as he wants to be."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.