With Orioles' owner Peter Angelos in declining health, Major League Baseball has asked the team to inform it by June who is in control of the club, according to multiple sources.
The request is the strongest signal yet that the Orioles are transitioning from the leadership of Angelos, 89, who is no longer able to run the team.
What the league dubs a “control person” is likely to be one of his sons, John or Louis, and the appointment will require formal approval of the baseball club owners.
Every club must designate an executive as the primary contact for MLB. The official is accountable for team operations and for ensuring league rules are complied with.
Peter Angelos, who occupied the position for years, continues to hold a majority of the limited partnership that owns the Orioles. But he has fallen into ill health and his sons have becoming increasingly active operating the team.
MLB has said it would like the Orioles to name the new executive before the next club owners meeting in June, according to two officials.
Several sources cautioned that naming a control person is not the same as designating the ultimate successor to Angelos as principal owner.
The latter is part of estate planning that the Angelos family has kept private, saying it would be premature to comment.
“As far as succession, the league wants to know things are in order,” one source said. “But succession doesn’t happen until there is a succession event.”
The sources interviewed include some with direct knowledge of the Orioles’ situation, and one outside the team.
The family and the team declined interviews on who would be the control person.
A team's control person and principal owner are often one and the same. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said team owners prefer to have as their point of contact someone who is the largest — or among the largest — stake holders in their teams.
An MLB spokesperson declined to comment for this article.
Sons assuming more control: Peter Angelos, a lawyer like his sons, bought the team for $173 million in 1993. As he approached 90, he began to cede control to his sons in 2017 and 2018.
John and Louis have long had roles in the organization.
In recent years, John has taken more control of the business aspects of the team. He has long overseen the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which is majority-owned by the team and broadcasts Orioles and Washington Nationals games.
Louis is a member of his father’s law firm and an Orioles ownership representative who has been attending MLB meetings.
Sons collaborating: The family has described the sons' interactions as a "collaboration," and it's not clear which one might officially fill their father's role as control person.
Neither son has been in the public eye extensively, but they have recently become more visible.
“We live here,” John Angelos said in November as they introduced Mike Elias as the new executive vice president and general manager. “We grew up here. We’ve spent our lives here. We’re not going anywhere. So, we’ll be available, yes.”
The Orioles endured a team-record 115 losses last season and have since named Elias to the front office. and Brandon Hyde as the manager.
The club has long had an uneven relationship with MLB, owing partly to a continuing disagreement with the league and the Nationals over how much the Orioles’ television network owes to the Washington team in broadcast rights. The dispute has dragged on for years, with the Orioles arguing repeatedly that MLB is not a fair arbiter of the team’s claims.