Pending approval

The Chicago Cubs sale and transfer from the Tribune Co. to Tom Ricketts has been agreed to in principle.

However, the sale is not complete.

The next step is that Major League Baseball's lawyers go over the "contract draft." This document was sent to MLB by Tribune Co. and the Ricketts to make sure none of the agreed-to parts of the deal violate MLB rules and regulations for ownership, ownership partners and agreements.

According to a major-league source, Sam Zell will continue to be a limited partner, owning 5-7 percent of the Cubs after the sale is completed. This type of maneuver will allow Zell to save millions of dollars in capital gains on the sale price.

The sale should go through for somewhere around $850 million.

Zell will not be listed as owner of Tribune Co., but rather a separate partner in the acquisitions.

The Tribune Co. is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but the Cubs sale is separate from the other entities such as WGN television, WGN radio a well as the L.A Times, all of which fall under the Chapter 11 protection against bankruptcy.

The Cubs also will own a 20 percent portion of Comcast SportsNet Chicago with the White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks and Comcast.

According to major-league sources, some tweaks to the long-term television/radio deal have been made to allow the Ricketts family some maneuverability in looking toward the future on its media front.

MLB should sign off on this agreement by this weekend. After that, 75 percent of MLB owners must vote yes for the sale to be complete. That should happen some time in August.

A source close to the sale told me that the Ricketts family will be able to direct -- in an off-the-record capacity -- chairman Crane Kenney and general manager Jim Hendry in what they would expect for the future as far as trades and acquisitions by the trading deadline. In other words, Ricketts will be able to direct Hendry as to whether he can spend more money for the 2009 season.