The Royals have been owned by businessman David Glass -- who made his fortune as an executive with Wal-Mart -- since 2000. He purchased the team then for $96 million. He is ready to cash in.
As first reported by Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark of The Athletic, Glass has agreed to sell the franchise to John Sherman, who is originally from Kansas City and is currently vice chairman of the Indians, and local investors. The Royals announced the sale agreement Friday.
"The decision to sell the Royals was difficult for our family," Glass said in a statement. "Our goal, which I firmly believe we've achieved, was to have someone local, who truly loved the game of baseball and who would be a great steward for this franchise going forward. In John Sherman we have found everything we were looking for in taking ownership of this franchise."
Sherman added: "I am enormously grateful to David and the Glass Family for this extraordinary opportunity, and am humbled by the chance to team up with a distinguished group of local investors to carry forward and build on this rich Kansas City Royals legacy. Our goal will be threefold: to compete for a championship on behalf of our fans; to honor their passion, their experience and their unwavering commitment; and to carry their hopes and dreams forward in this great Kansas City region we all love -- for decades to come."
The reported sale price is north of $1 billion. Forbes in April estimated that the Royals were the 28th-most valuable baseball team, ahead of only the Rays and Marlins, but the Marlins sold for $1.2 billion in 2017. Forbes has the Royals worth $1 billion right now, but franchise value and what a team is worth in a sale are two different things.
Kansas City Royals owner David Glass is negotiating a sale of the team to local businessman John Sherman for more than $1 billion, sources tell ESPN. Sherman is currently a minority owner of the Cleveland Indians and would divest himself if Royals deal is finalized as expected.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 27, 2019
It should be noted the sale is not yet final. Sherman must divest himself of his stake in the Indians and receive approval from MLB and the other 29 owners. Seeing how he is already entrenched in the game with the Indians and has been vetted by the league, approval is a mere formality. The sale will be ratified during the owners meetings in November.
Though there was a high point in 2015, Glass' ownership wasn't exactly great for Royals fans. From 2000-2012, they had a winning record just once (83-79 in 2003) and fell short of 70 wins eight times. Everything came together and broke perfectly for them to win the AL pennant in 2014 and World Series in 2015, but things have fallen apart just as quickly. They are 47-88 after winning just 58 games last year.
This isn't to say that the owner is solely responsible for wins and losses, but that's an awful lot of terrible play with a very short window of success. The Royals routinely rank in the bottom five of payroll, but Glass did ramp things up during and after his team's peak, ranking 13th in 2015, ninth in 2016 and eighth in 2017.
The Royals' local TV deal expires after this season, so signing a new one generally should help revenue go up and this might be a prime time for a buyer.
Given that Glass is 84, got to enjoy winning the World Series and would receive a significant payday, it seems like a deal could be mutually beneficial.