The long-awaited sale of the Baltimore Orioles is reportedly here.
The Angelos family has agreed to sell the MLB franchise to a pair of billionaires, David Rubenstein and Mike Arougheti, at a price that values the team at $1.725 billion, according to Puck News' John Ourand and Sportico.
Both Rubenstein and Arougheti hail from the world of private equity. Rubenstein is the co-founder of the massive Carlyle Group, and Arougheti is the co-founder of Ares Management. Rubenstein, a Baltimore native, will reportedly be the control person of the new Orioles ownership group.
Per Ourand, the deal will be structured to give the new group 40% of the club, with the sale of the remaining stake to come following the death of patriarch Peter Angelos. Angelos, who purchased the Orioles in 1993 as the leader of a group that paid $173 million, has reportedly been incapacitated for years by an illness.
MLB's other owners will receive the official details of the sale at the annual owners meeting next week. There reportedly isn't a timeline for the deal to close.
Can the Orioles' new owners support (and fund) the team's rise?
The sale of the Orioles comes at a critical point in the team's history.
To many other teams, the Orioles would appear to be in a fantastic place. Under general manager Mike Elias, the club has amassed one of the most enviable collections of young talent in MLB. That talent includes catcher Adley Rutschman, third baseman Gunnar Henderson and starting pitchers Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez, all of whom helped lead the 2023 team to a 101-61 record and its first division title since 2014.
Even better for the Orioles is what's to come, as the team boasts arguably the strongest farm system in baseball. Jackson Holliday, the first overall pick of the 2022 MLB Draft, is emphatically considered the best prospect in the sport and a future superstar, while MLB Pipeline ranks catcher/first baseman Samuel Basallo (No. 17), outfielder Colton Cowser (19), corner infielder Coby Mayo (30), outfielder Heston Kjerstad (32) and infielder Joey Ortiz (63) all as top-100 prospects. Only the Chicago Cubs have more top-100 prospects than the Orioles' six.
That all sounds like a team in a very good place, but it says a lot about the team's overall position that news of this sale will be very popular in Baltimore.
Before this sale, it appeared that the Orioles' plan was to attempt to win as cheaply as possible via all that young talent. The team's $89.4 million CBT 40-man payroll last season was the second-smallest in baseball, and its $99.3 million figure for 2024 is currently third-smallest.
It's fun to win with a young and cheap team, but it appeared unlikely that the Orioles would pay the amount required to keep all, or even some, of that talent in Baltimore. Controlling owner John Angelos, Peter's son, made fans uneasy last year when he was reported to have said that paying his team's core wouldn't be "feasible."
The Angelos family has a well-earned reputation for being cheap and capricious, with recent incidents including the suspension of popular broadcaster Kevin Brown and an attempt to play hardball with the state of Maryland over the beloved Camden Yards.
But unfortunately for the Angelos family, winning a World Series with a bottom-tier payroll is borderline impossible in modern MLB. The Oakland Athletics haven't done it. The Tampa Bay Rays haven't done it. Teams such as the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, whose salaries bottomed out before they won the big one, only brought home titles after bringing in highly paid players such as Justin Verlander and Jon Lester. Even the 2015 Kansas City Royals ranked in the middle of the pack.
As a result, commitment to future spending, particularly on extensions for players such as Rutschman and Henderson, will be the biggest question this new ownership group faces. Rubenstein being a Baltimore native should inspire hope that he'll want to spend enough to make the team competitive, but he wouldn't be the first "fan" owner to go in the opposite direction.
The second question for the new owners will be what happens with the team's television strategy.
What will happen to MASN?
The Orioles and the nearby Washington Nationals have been embroiled in the oddest local broadcasting situation in sports since the Nats came to town in 2005.
As part of a compromise with the Angelos family, MLB created the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which controls the television rights of both teams but is majority-controlled by the Orioles. The network has been a legal headache for both teams and the league for more than a decade now, with the Nationals alleging that the Orioles have been underpaying them on the scale of tens of millions of dollars.
MASN finally agreed to pay Washington an extra $100 million last year, but that was for only the 2012 through 2016 seasons. There is much more for MLB, MASN, the Orioles and the Nationals to figure out, as basically no one in the situation is happy with the current arrangement, except their lawyers' bank accounts.
That situation has been a major obstacle in the prospective sales of both teams. As such, new ownership in Baltimore could mean that negotiations have progressed to the point that Rubenstein and Arougheti are comfortable buying in. It's also possible that MLB wouldn't allow a sale without the new owners pledging to put this matter to bed.
At the very least, the sale of the Orioles means a new face at the MASN negotiating table.