WASHINGTON (AP)The Lerner family that has owned the Washington Nationals since 2006 is exploring the possibility of selling the Major League Baseball franchise.

Manager Dave Martinez said before the team’s game at Atlanta that managing principal owner Mark Lerner called him Monday morning to deliver the news. Lerner, who has taken over a lead role with the team from his father, Ted, has in recent years said the family would never sell the team.

”To say the least, I was shocked,” Martinez said. ”Those are big decisions that the Lerner family had to make. I’ll support than in any way possible. This doesn’t mean my relationship with the Lerner family goes away. We’re still in this. I know know they’re very committed to this organization, as am I.”

The Lerners hiring a firm to find potential investors to buy part or all of the Nationals was first reported by the Washington Post.

Forbes valued the team at $2 billion. Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen bought the New York Mets in 2020 for $2.4 billion.

The Lerners bought the Nationals from MLB for $450 million 16 years ago after the team was moved to the U.S. capital from Montreal. The franchise won its first World Series title in 2019.

Martinez said he speaks with Mark Lerner daily and met with coaches Monday to talk to them about the news. It’s his goal to keep it from being a distraction for players.

”We always talk about the circle of trust, and the Lerner family and this organization is part of that circle,” he said. ”But this is our main focus, so let’s get the boys ready to play and go play good baseball.”

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