Ted Leonsis, the owner of the NBA's Washington Wizards, NHL's Capitals and WNBA's Mystics "has emerged as a suitor" to buy MLB's Nationals, according to Barry Svrluga, Ben Strauss and Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post.
Leonsis "is among the would-be buyers granted access to the Nationals' financial data, a key step in preparing a bid for the District’s MLB franchise," per Svrluga, Strauss and Janes.
The Lerner family, led by real estate developer Ted Lerner, purchased the Nationals for $450 million in 2006.
Svrluga reported in April that the Lerner family was exploring the idea of selling the Nationals and had hired investment bank Allen & Co. to identify potential buyers. Ted Lerner's son, Mike Lerner, told Svrluga at the time that "there is no set timetable or expectation of a specific outcome" in selling the team.
However, the Washington Post reports "people familiar with the process" believe a sale could happen before the start of the new year in January and potentially in time for new ownership to be approved at owners meetings in November.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported in June that the Nationals were expected to be sold and could fetch at least $2 billion.
At least five potential bidders have met with Nationals officials this summer, including billionaire Michael B. Kim and mortgage tycoon Stanley Middleman, according to the Washington Post.
It's unclear if Leonsis has met with Nationals officials, or if he would be able to purchase the franchise on his own. The Nationals are valued at $2 billion, per Forbes, and are the 12th most expensive team in MLB.
Since the Lerner family purchased the team, the Nationals have reached the postseason five times, highlighted by a World Series title in 2019.
However, the team has struggled since then, going 26-34 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, 65-97 during the 2021 season and currently sits fifth in the NL East with a 41-82 record.
Washington is on pace to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
In addition to the team's struggles, the Nationals could not come to an agreement on a contract extension for superstar outfielder Juan Soto and eventually traded him to the San Diego Padres this summer.
Soto was only the latest star player to depart the franchise. Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner have all left in recent years.
In any case, fans will be hoping the franchise's next owner can help the team get back to playoff contention.