Just when it looked as if the Nationals might finally be on the verge of getting a new owner, it was revealed the sale process continues to be delayed.
Though Major League Baseball had said it hoped to announce the sale of the league-owned franchise at this week's owners meetings in Milwaukee, commissioner Bud Selig said that goal will not be realized.
Selig said he has not yet finished formally interviewing the eight competing bidders for the club he had met with only five groups as of last week's general managers meetings in California.
"All these people have spent an enormous amount of time, money, effort," Selig told reporters. "And they certainly deserve one interview. I've enjoyed it. I've done five groups so far. I have three to go, and I'm trying to do those as quickly as possible."
The process also has been stalled by a yet-to-be-completed agreement on the lease for a new ballpark in Washington. Baseball says it won't name an owner until that document is finalized.
The Nationals/Expos have been owned by MLB since February 2002. Baseball originally said it wanted to have the team sold by Opening Day 2005, then the All-Star break, then September, and now by the end of the calendar year.
All the uncertainties are leaving the Nationals in a frustrating position as the Hot Stove League heats up. General manager Jim Bowden who last week interviewed for the Red Sox's vacant job does not have a concrete budget to work with. The fate of manager Frank Robinson and his coaching staff has not been decided. And free agents might be reluctant to sign with a club while it's still in this state of flux.
"It's not fair to this ballclub and this organization to be put in this position for the coming season because we're behind on moves and things we can do and approaching players, the free agent market, either signing free agents or even really seriously talking to them," Robinson told the Washington Post. "Just overall, the feeling and the atmosphere around this ballclub is that we're at a disadvantage."