Baseball officials are moving toward a Monday deadline to hear from the San Francisco group working to save the Giants.
On Friday, deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg said officials expect to receive a purchase offer from the San Francisco group early next week. What happens after the offer is made "depends on what it is," Greenberg told the Associated Press, but added that "time is of the essence."
A major-league owner, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the St. Petersburg Times that the San Francisco group essentially has been told to put up or shut up by Monday.
If the group does not produce an "acceptable" offer by Monday, then "things look good" for the move to Tampa Bay, the owner said.
"The team is headed your direction, I feel confident, unless they come up with something we don't know about," the owner added.
Monday is the next scheduled off day in the National League Championship Series between Atlanta and Pittsburgh. If the series goes beyond Sunday's fifth game, it would resume Tuesday night in Atlanta.
A major question, of course, is what qualifies as "acceptable."
National League president Bill White has said the offer must be "competitive" and told the St. Petersburg Times earlier this week the group must also include details of a stadium plan and show satisfactory working capital.
Several baseball officials have indicated in recent weeks that they do not expect the San Francisco group to make a strong bid.
The San Francisco group, according to media reports, is not planning to match the $115-million Tampa Bay bid, but more likely will offer about $95-million. And they are not expected to present any firm plans to replace Candlestick Park.
Deputy commissioner Greenberg, adding to White's comments, also indicated the stadium is a relevant part of the bid. "Obviously the stadium issue in the San Francisco bay area is an issue," he said.
There were also indications Friday that baseball's Ownership Committee was on the verge of formally approving the Tampa Bay group. That approval would be the final step leading to a vote by league owners on the move and sale.
Greenberg said that baseball is in uncharted waters in handling the Giants situation.
"I don't know if baseball has ever had, sitting on the table simultaneously, two offers from different cities to purchase an existing franchise," Greenberg said. "I think the Executive Council would have to consider this without looking at any prior precedents."
Asked how long it could be until there is a decision, Greenberg said: "I couldn't even guess. Obviously we need to move relatively quickly. Time is of the essence."
If the San Francisco group produces a viable offer, it will likely have to be studied by both the Ownership Committee and Executive Council. If there is no offer or it is clearly inadequate, baseball officials could act promptly and approve the sale and move to Tampa Bay.