Royals owner David Glass is in discussions about selling his MLB franchise to a group led by Kansas City entrepreneur and Cleveland Indians vice chairman John Sherman, multiple sources told The Star on Tuesday.
The news of the potential sale was first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark.
Two sources described the talks as advanced, with one telling The Star that a deal could be finalized by the end of the year. The sale would need to be approved by MLB owners. League rules would also require Sherman, 64, to relinquish his minority ownership stake in the Indians.
Glass, the former president and CEO of Wal-Mart who turns 84 next week, is currently in his 20th season as owner and CEO of the Royals. He was appointed interim chairman and CEO after the death of Ewing Kauffman, the Royals’ first owner, in 1993. In April 2000, the Glass family acquired the Royals from Kauffman’s estate for $96 million.
In April, Forbes estimated the Royals were worth $1 billion. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the Royals’ sale price could exceed that figure.
The Royals issued a statement Tuesday evening on the reported sale negotiations: “The Kansas City Royals are not in a position to make any comments on the published speculation regarding any potential sale of the ball club. The Royals will make no further statements at this time.”
Attempts to reach Sherman for comment Tuesday night were unsuccessful.
The Royals’ current deal with Fox Sports Kansas City expires after this season, and they have not finalized what should be a lucrative new television rights contract. MLB.com reported a new deal could net the Royals between $48 million and $52 million annually.
The Indians named Sherman vice chairman and minority owner in August 2016. Prior to joining the Indians ownership, Sherman started and built Kansas City-based companies LPG Services Group and Inergy LP.
LPG merged with Dynegy in 1996, while Inergy went public in 2001 before it eventually sold for more than $35 million.
The Royals, who entered Tuesday with a 46-86 record, are in the middle of their third consecutive losing season and on pace to lose 100 games. They finished .500 in 2016 after back-to-back World Series appearances, including the 2015 World Series championship season. In the last 19 seasons under Glass, the Royals have finished .500 or better five times. They lost 100 games in five of the 14 losing seasons.
This season, the Royals have averaged 18,955 fans per game at Kauffman Stadium, ahead of just Baltimore and Tampa Bay in attendance among American League teams.
The Star’s Sam Mellinger contributed to this report.