PHOENIX, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The long-awaited sale of the Boston Red Sox was completed Wednesday as major league owners unanimously approved the $700 million sale of the club from the Jean R. Yawkey Trust to a group headed by former Florida Marlins owner John Henry.
The deal had been under constant scrutiny over the last month as potential suitors Miles Prentice and Charles Dolan continued to up the ante in an attempt to get the trust to re-open the bidding.
The price tag, which includes Fenway Park and an 80 percent interest in New England Sports Network, is the highest ever paid for a baseball team and ends the Yawkey family's association of nearly 70 years with the club.
Henry heads a group that includes former Padres owner Tom Werner, long-time baseball executive Larry Lucchino and former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. That contingent was chosen by the trust, but Prentice ($755 million) and Dolan ($750 million) submitted higher offers in the last two weeks.
The late bids by Prentice and Dolan called into question what was best for the trust and raised speculation that Henry's group -- preferred by baseball executives -- was receiving special consideration.
Approving the sale of the Red Sox was essential to the owners, because it allows Henry to sell the Marlins to Expos owner Jeffrey Loria. The Expos are expected to be held in receivership by the league and could be run, or even managed, by MLB executive Frank Robinson.
Loria reportedly will pay $158 million for the Marlins and has expressed interest in bringing members of the Expos' front office and even manager Jeff Torborg with him to Miami.
Loria's move to Florida does not bode well for Montreal, which is one of the likely targets if contraction occurs.
Owners voted for contraction on Nov. 6 but have not stated which teams would be shut down. The Expos and Twins are the teams most rumored to be contracted, but Minnesota has vowed to fight a legal battle and began making personnel moves this week with an eye toward the season.
Commissioner Bud Selig plans to use the meetings this week to update owners on contraction and the state of collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
Last week, Selig put an initial proposal on the table to the Players Association. Union chief Don Fehr is expected to address the owners Thursday.