The Washington Nationals‘ biggest decision of the offseason will be their choice of who replaces retiring manager Davey Johnson. Principal owners Mark and his father Ted Lerner will have the final say on who takes Johnson’s place in the Nationals dugout in 2014.
The Lerner family will get plenty of help from GM Mike Rizzo and his staff, led by Bob Boone, but the most important votes belong to Mark and his dad Ted.
As ownership goes, the Lerner family are very quiet, letting the baseball guys do their job. But every free agent that the team has signed or high-profile player they have drafted has spent time with the Lerners before the deal was done. They are all about making sure that the people that represent the team understand their passion as the owners of the franchise.
They are very competitive when it comes to winning and they are dedicated to making sure the team is good, not just now but well into the future.
Mark Lerner’s mentor in team ownership is his good friend Ted Leonsis, who brought him in as a minority partner in Monumental Entertainment Group, the company that owns the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, and the Washington Mystics. Leonsis is the CEO of Monumental Entertainment Group, and a model owner in many ways that he has passed on to his friend.
Lerner, like Leonsis, is big on making sure that fans enjoy coming out to see the team, and the importance of establishing the Nationals brand both on a local as well as a national basis. He often is seen walking all around Nationals Park just chatting with the fans and talking baseball. Also, he has learned from his mentor the importance of building a successful, winning organization from the ground up with attention to every detail.
He has become someone who attends every MLB owners’ meeting, and continues to learn as much as he can owning a baseball team. One thing is clear, and that is he is becoming well regarded in baseball circles, and he is quietly establishing himself as a respected member of the ownership community.
According Forbes Magazine, the Lerner Family has a net worth of $4 billion, ranking them among the richest owners in baseball. Their goal of establishing the Nationals as one of baseball’s premier franchises seems to be well in place and the branding process is in full go status.
The Lerner’s bought the franchise from MLB in 2006 for an estimated $450 million, and they have been able to increase the value of the team to an estimated $631 million. They have been very active over the past three years in the free agent market, and getting star players to look at Washington as a destination is no longer a problem.
So the process of finding a new manager will begin soon, and there is a thin group of candidates out there; but, the Nationals can feel comfortable the the replacement for Davey Johnson will be worthy of the job — someone who understands he has a team that can be a perennial contender not only to win the NL East, but the World Series.