Twenty-nine teams would like to acquire Washington Nationals star Juan Soto, but the MLB club is seeing comparable interest from parties looking to buy the whole team.
The Nationals are fielding offers, and 28 people or groups have expressed interest.
- Washington Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics owner Ted Leonsis is believed to be interested and a natural fit. The Lerner family, the current owner of the Nationals, are also part-owners of the Capitals and Wizards.
- However, Leonsis’ initial bid for the Nationals was reportedly below those of other suitors.
- Former Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, and Baltimore Orioles CEO Larry Lucchino is reportedly heading an interested group.
Forbes valued the Nationals at $2 billion in March. The New York Mets were sold for $2.4 billion in November 2020.
The MASN Effect
The team has a unique factor complicating any potential sale: Its local sports rights are held by the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), an entity owned 67% by the Orioles.
The arrangement, established as compensation for the Orioles when the Nationals (then Expos) moved into their media territory from Montreal in 2005, ties the Nats to an independent regional sports network that has cut costs in recent years after dropping from 5.6 million subscribers in 2018 to 3.6 million this year.
The Nationals and MASN are facing off in multiple lawsuits, including one in which a judge has ruled that the network owes the team around $100 million in rights fees for broadcasts between 2012 and 2017. The Orioles are appealing the ruling.