Lerner family, Washington Nationals owners, may consider selling team, per report

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The Lerner family, which has owned the Washington Nationals since 2006, may consider selling the team. Barry Svrulga of the Washington Post reports that the Lerners recently hired an investment bank to explore such a possibility. The exploration could lead to taking on additional investors in the team, or it could lead to the team being put up for sale, which would entail a full transfer of ownership. 

“As revenue streams around professional sports continue to evolve and the strength of the Washington Nationals brand continues to grow, the team believes it is prudent to assess all of the options out there,” team spokesperson Jennifer Giglio told the Post

Under the guidance of family patriarch and real-estate magnate Ted Lerner, now 96 years of age, the Lerners purchased the Nationals some 16 years ago for $450 million. Per recent Forbes estimates, the Nationals are now valuated at roughly $2 billion. The possibility of fetching such a sale price is perhaps part of the motivation. 

Under the Lerners, the Nationals have claimed four division titles and five postseason appearances. In 2019, they won the first and to date only World Series title in franchise history. Not long before the Lerners made their purchase, the club relocated from Montreal to Washington, D.C. and shed the Expos name for the Nationals. 

As Svrulga notes, the possibility of a sale comes as the Nationals hope to sign franchise slugger Juan Soto to a long-term and almost certainly record-breaking contract extension. As well, a dispute with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which carries Nationals games but is owned and controlled by the Baltimore Orioles, is ongoing and has been for several years. Those two substantial uncertainties certainly wouldn’t preclude a sale, but they could complicate it. 

The most recent MLB teams sold were the Mets ($2.475 billion) and Royals ($1 billion) in 2020.