KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The ownership of the Kansas City Royals is open to the possibility of selling the franchise if the right buyer is found, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, and reports suggest that it could happen in the near future.
The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday night because they were not authorized to discuss any negotiations given the sensitive nature of the situation.
The Athletic reported earlier Tuesday that Royals owner David Glass was in discussions with a group led by Kansas City native and Cleveland Indians vice chairman John Sherman. But the depth of those talks is unclear, and one person told the AP the club has been open to offers for some time.
Sherman would need to divest himself of his shares in the Indians to buy the franchise.
“The Kansas City Royals are not in a position to make any comments on the published speculation regarding any potential sale of the ballclub,” the team said in a statement shortly before the first pitch of its game against Oakland. “The Royals will make no further statements at this time.”
Glass, the former president and CEO of Wal-Mart, was appointed interim chairman of the club in 1993 after the death of its beloved founder, Ewing Kauffman. The Glass family bought the team for $96 million in April 2000 with the understanding that the Royals would remain in Kansas City.
Earlier this year, Forbes calculated the franchise value at $1 billion.
The 84-year-old Glass, whose son Dan is the team’s president, has been a private but polarizing owner in Kansas City. He is credited with keeping the club in one of the smallest markets in baseball, but was scorned by many fans for years because of its frugal spending and losing ways.
That changed when Glass hired Dayton Moore as the general manager. The Royals began a long, slow build toward respectability, then poured heavily into payroll when a core group of players led by Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas reached the majors and Kansas City began to contend in the AL Central.
The breakthrough came in 2014, when the Royals reached the World Series for the first time since winning their first championship in 1985. They took the San Francisco Giants to Game 7, and they had the tying run on third base in the ninth inning, when they finally succumbed at Kauffman Stadium.
Driven by the disappointment of such a close call, the Royals returned largely intact the next year — and added crucial players such as Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto ahead of the trade deadline — and made another World Series run. This time, the club broke through against the New York Mets, rolling in just five games to its second World Series championship.
The timing of any potential sale makes sense. The Royals’ local television contract expires after this season, and it is likely any new deal would include a substantial increase in rights fees.
The club is also in the midst of another massive rebuild. They are barrelling toward another 100-loss season, but they have a bevy of young prospects rising through the minor leagues, and the front office is hopeful the Royals will be contending again within the next two years.