Ted Lerner stepped down from his role as managing principal owner of the Washington Nationals, effective immediately, handing the role to his son, Mark.
The club made the announcement Thursday.
Ted Lerner has been the owner of the Nationals since 2006, and was a part of the turnaround that has made the Nationals a perennial playoff contener. Last year, the Nationals went 97-65 with a NL East Division title, losing to the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.
Lerner called owning the Nationals a “dream of mine” and had wanted to own a team from his hometown.
“Twelve years ago, when Major League Baseball selected my family as the owners of the Washington Nationals, I could not have been happier. I always knew that someday my son, Mark, would take over my role as Managing Principal Owner. That day has come. I look forward to watching him take the helm and help lead this team to a world championship,” he told the media Thursday.
The transfer of ownership gives his son Mark voting power with the MLB after it was approved by the other 29 owners at their meeting in New York. Ted had owned and run the team with his family, but he always had full control.
Mark was always the one who was most involved with the team. Ted usually was behind the scenes and did not speak much, while Mark was present at many Nationals games and loved to be at the ballpark. The passion for the game of baseball is there for Mark, which could play well with the fans. Instead of having a guy who is behind the scenes, someone who is at the ballpark everyday could make the Nationals fun to watch and create more storylines. This move shows that the Lerner family will not be selling the team anytime soon.
In wake of the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup, this was a perfect time to announce the move. The Capitals parade was Tuesday, and now it’s baseball season for the next few months. Why not start it off with a splash and announce an ownership change? It could keep the energy left over from the Capitals in DC.
This move is also critical when it comes to Bryce Harper. With the Nationals already above the luxury tax, it is obvious they are in win-now mode. Mark Lerner even said that they will do “whatever it takes to win,” and that could even mean paying Harper the ridiculous contract he wants. If Mark was able to bring Harper back to DC, he would become a DC sports legend.