Jeff Moorad stepped down as the CEO of the San Diego Padres on Thursday, perhaps believing he won't get the number of votes needed to take control of the club.
The Padres said Thursday that Moorad will remain as the franchise's vice chairman and will be responsible for overseeing the Padres' involvement in the development of Fox Sports San Diego. Padres COO and President Tom Garfinkel will assume the CEO duties in the interim, taking over day-to-day operation of the club.
Earlier this month, Moorad withdrew his application to baseball to finalize his purchase of the club in order to focus on getting MLB's approval for the team's new TV deal with Fox. Moorad owns 49 percent of the Padres. He and a group of investors were set to buy the remainder from majority owner John Moores in January, but fellow owners deferred a vote on the proposed transfer, saying they needed clarification on financial information.
There's been speculation that Moorad wouldn't get the required number of votes to allow him to take control.
Moorad said in a text to The Associated Press that he "will continue as Vice-Chairman and focus on the Fox/Padres relationship - still wearing the "SD" with pride." Asked if he was concerned he wouldn't get the necessary votes from owners, Moorad didn't respond.
Moorad, a former player agent, began purchase of the club on an installment basis before the 2009 season. Since then, there have been questions about whether Moorad has enough money to complete the deal.
Moorad and his group have five years to complete the purchase. They had been looking to accelerate the process. There also has been speculation that Moorad would use upfront money from the TV deal to help pay off Moores rather than pump it into the player payroll of a team that finished 71-91 in 2011, last in the NL West. Fox reportedly will pay the Padres $30 million in the first year of a 20-year deal.
A person with knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity Thursday because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the Padres felt it was important to let fans know that the stability of the club would remain unchanged with Garfinkel running the day-to-day operations in conjunction with general manager Josh Byrnes.
There appear to be other scenarios that could occur, including the minority ownership group continuing to pursue purchase of the club with Moorad, without him or selling its stake back to Moores. Moores didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.