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MLB: Lerner family explores sale of Washington Nationals

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MLB: Lerner family explores sale of Washington Nationals
Mark Lerner (R) assumed day-to-day Washington Nationals ownership responsibilities from his father, Ted, in 2018. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

April 12 (UPI) -- The Lerner family will consider selling the Washington Nationals, manager Dave Martinez confirmed to reporters.

Martinez told reporters Monday about the Lerner's interest in a potential sale. He made the comments the same day the Washington Post reported that the Lerner family hired an investment bank to research potential investors and "possibly buyers" for the National League East franchise based in Washington, D.C.

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Martinez said that managing principal owner Mark Lerner delivered the news to him through a phone call. The Nationals are on the road for a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.

"To say the least, I was shocked," Martinez told reporters Monday.

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Forbes estimated last month that the Nationals franchise is worth $2 billion, up 4% from last year. They rank as the 12th most-valuable MLB franchise. The New York Yankees, worth an estimated $6 billion, top the list.

Real estate magnate Ted Lerner, 96, bought the Nationals from MLB in 2006 for $450 million. He transferred daily team control over to his son, Mark, in 2018. The franchise previously operated as the Montreal Expos from 1969 through 2004 and moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005.

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"This is an exploratory process, so there is no set timetable or expectation of a specific outcome," Mark Lerner told the Post.

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"The organization is as committed as ever to their employees, players, fans, sponsors and partners and to putting a competitive product on the field."

The Lerners hired Allen & Company to research parties interested in investing into or buying the franchise. The investment bank previously managed the sale of the New York Mets and Carolina Panthers, in addition to other professional sports franchises.

The Nationals, who won a World Series title in 2019, went 65-97 last season and finished in last place in the National League East. They also logged a last-place finish in the coronavirus pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. They've reached the postseason five times in the last 17 full seasons.

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The Nationals (2-3) battle the Braves (2-3) at 7:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday at Truist Park in Atlanta.

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