Major League Baseball owners have approved the sale of a minority stake of the Guardians organization to David Blitzer, commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed to various reporters this afternoon (via Bob Nightengale of USA Today). The agreement is still pending a closing, but Zack Meisel of the Athletic writes that it’s expected to be finalized in the coming days.
According to The Athletic, Blitzer will own somewhere between 25% – 30% of the team initially. Of greater interest is that he’ll have an option to acquire a majority stake six years from now, as Jon Heyman of the New York Post tweets. The sale price of the deal has not been announced.
None of this comes as a new development, as Sportico and Heyman reported last December that Blitzer was set to acquire a minority stake in the franchise with a long-term path to majority ownership. It’s nevertheless a notable step for the organization that the sale process appears to be reaching its end.
The Dolan family purchased the franchise back in 1999. They’ve remained in majority control since that point, but the Dolans have sought to sell a stake since former minority owner John Sherman divested his interest to purchase the Royals in August 2019. That search process eventually led to Blitzer, who also has stakes in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. Blitzer and partner Josh Harris had previously entered the fray during the 2020 sale of the Mets that eventually went to Steve Cohen; Meisel writes that, at least as of last week, Harris was not involved in the Guardians purchase.
Last summer, the Cleveland organization agreed to extend its lease at Progressive Field through at least 2036. Meisel writes that Blitzer could eventually oversee development projects around the ballpark, although it’s unclear if that’d take place before he assumes majority control.
It also remains to be seen whether Blitzer’s addition will have any impact on the team’s spending habits, although that seems unlikely to come into play unless/until he takes majority control. Dolan has come under fire throughout his tenure for the team’s low payrolls. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Guardians opened this season with an approximate $68.2MM player payroll. That’s the league’s fourth-lowest mark, ahead of only the noncompetitive Orioles, A’s and Pirates.