It's not a sale-finalizing gambit, per se, but it's the logjam-clearing tremor that was a prerequisite to any substantive movement on the Rangers sale front, and undoubtedly the biggest official sale-related development since Tom Hicks originally selected the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan-led ownership consortium to purchase the Rangers back in mid-December -- a decision which he repeatedly attempted to avert beforehand and later attempted to renege on by conducting apparent covert negotiations with "losing" bidder Jim Crane, but let's flush all of that from our consciousness for the moment.
As was announced this morning via team press release (and elaborated upon by Maury Brown), the Rangers filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning, a "pre-packaged" petition which effectively means that all necessary approvals are secured and as much work is completed as possible beforehand, thereby lessening the amount of time required for the court-supervised portion of the sale. Provided that the requested court hearing goes ahead as planned 45 days from now wherein the sale and reorganization plan are confirmed, the sale should hopefully be finalized sometime around early- to mid-July.
This has all the appearances of being a preemptive move designed to thwart creditor-imposed involuntary bankruptcy, as this plan -- which, according to Chuck Greenberg, was proposed by Tom Hicks' legal team some 3½ weeks ago -- fully satisfies the $75 million lien on the ballclub and ostensibly reduces the chances that Monarch Alternative Capital attempts to pull that exact stunt; however, unless Hicks -- as suggested by NBC's Craig Calcaterra this morning -- negotiated some sort of back-door settlement with Hicks Sports Group's most aggressive creditors, or otherwise has assurances in hand that no retalitory motion will be filed, I daresay this isn't the end of the war.
Irrespective of the outcome and/or accompanying delays, it seems fairly clear that the Rangers, despite all assurances that the Rangers would "work within their budget" with respect to the impending amateur draft (never mind that we don't know what the budget entails), aren't going to go off the reservation with their four top-50 picks and select players requiring well-above-slot bonuses; pick No. 14(a) is going to require a draftee with a 95-100 percent chance of signing, since the penalty for failure is the permanent loss of the pick, and while I expect there will be a little more flexibility available at pick No. 22, I can't imagine a player being drafted whose demands fall way beyond slot.