Selig: Nationals sale won't happen next week

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The Washington Nationals won't have a new owner for a while.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday that a vote on the sale of the franchise won't take place when owners meet in Milwaukee next week.

Several deadlines for selling the team have come and gone.
Baseball said earlier this year it hoped to have a new owner in
place by September.

Selig has spent the last few weeks speaking with the eight bidders for the team, which was bought by the other 29 clubs in 2002 when the franchise was known as the Montreal Expos.

"All these people have spent an enormous amount of time, money,
effort," Selig said after addressing major league general
managers. "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."

Last month, the Nationals extended the contract of general manager Jim Bowden through April. The delay makes it increasingly unlikely that the incoming ownership group will be able to compete for top free agents, who can start negotiating with all teams starting Friday.

"I'll say this for the groups: They have plans in waiting,"
Selig said. "It's just a question of who gets the team. They'll
react pretty quickly."

Baseball officials have said it is unlikely that owners will vote on a sale before lease negotiations for the team's new ballpark have been completed.