NOW that the planned sale of the Barako Bull franchise is out in the open, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa is expected to step in and closely monitor - if not regulate - all trade movements of the team until a deal is consummated.
Several media outlets including Spin.ph have reported that the sale of the controversial franchise is imminent, as per information from high-ranking team officials as well as officials from potential buyers.
Under PBA rules, the Commissioner's Office is tasked to step in and regulate all transactions entered into by a team that is up for sale, to prevent a ballclub from 'cannibalizing' its lineup prior to a transfer of ownership.
The rule is also meant to protect the interest of the new company coming in.
As it is, Barako has had a long history of questionable deals that fanned rumors that it is, in truth, being controlled by San Miguel Corp., even if the listed co-owners are current Customs chief Bert Lina and George Chua.
And in the weeks before news of the planned sale leaked out, there have been rumors that current Barako players like RR Garcia, Mac Baracael and JC Intal are being shipped back to SMC-controlled teams.
Former Gilas Pilipinas forward Intal, godson of SMC big boss Ramon S. Ang, is rumored to be on his way back to Ginebra in a trade for Chris Ellis. Talk of Baracael and Garcia being shipped to Star before the end of the current season has also heightened over the past weeks.
The rumors only grew after a photo taken of Garcia inside the main SMC compound in Ortigas last December 14 made the rounds on social media.
Also rumored to be on their return trip to different SMC teams are Rodney Brondial, Emman Monfort and Willy Wilson.
However, all these rumored moves will be moot and academic if the PBA steps in and closely monitors transactions entered into by Barako Bull.
This was the same lockdown implemented by former commissioner Chito Salud on Air21 Express in June 2014 after reports circulated that the Lina-owned franchise was being sold to NLEX.
In fact, then Air21 governor Lito Alvarez gave Spin.ph a clear explanation on why the team was prohibited from entering into any trade negotiations.
“Pag binenta ang team, ‘lock, stock and barrel’ na yan. Hindi na ako pwedeng mag-unload ng other players. Hindi na i-a-allow ng PBA yan,” said Alvarez.
The outspoken former PBA chairman revealed the rule was put in place to prevent a repeat of an incident in 2005, when Shell unloaded key players before selling its franchise to Welcoat (now Rain or Shine).
“Gumawa na kami ng ruling sa PBA na pag-ibebenta mo yung team, hindi na pwedeng mag trade. Controlled na ng PBA yan,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez bared that it was also the reason why Air21 was unable to trade Joseph Yeo and Sean Anthony prior to the sale. The two were eventually traded after NLEX assumed the team ownership under a 'gentleman's agreement' between NLEX officials and Alvarez.
“Sila na ang bahalang mag-trade dun. Kasi sa rules ng PBA, pag nabalita na ang isang team eh ibebenta na, hindi na pwedeng galawin 'yan ng lumang management. Lock, stock and barrel dapat yan pag binenta mo,” he said.
To refresh your memory, here's a video of the interview with Lito Alvarez: