Three minority Arizona Diamondbacks owners filed a suit against the team and managing general partner Ken Kendrick on Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, according to documents Zach Buchanan of The Athletic obtained.
Plaintiffs Alfredo Molina, Jim Weber, and limited liability company Carlise Investments claim the club is illegally trying to force them to increase their ownership stakes to at least 1%, or have their investments bought back at what's characterized as an unfairly discounted price of $60 per unit.
"Why they would want to do that, why they would treat our clients that way, to be honest, I can’t imagine," said Roger Cohen, the plaintiffs' lawyer. "It doesn’t make any sense. There is no logic to it."
To reach the requested threshold, Molina would need to increase his stake by $3.8 million, while Weber would be expected to invest an additional $6 million.
The team defended its decision as an attempt to streamline ownership and boost stakes among those with shares amounting to under 1%, citing the league's encouragement in the matter.
"The managing general partner of the D-Backs, with the support of Major League Baseball and on advice of independent legal counsel, has chosen to streamline the ownership group and reduce the number of partners with very minimal equity stakes in the partnership," the club said in a statement.
A league spokesperson confirmed it's MLB's preference for teams to have smaller ownership groups with larger stakes for governance purposes, while also stating the Diamondbacks feature a larger ownership group than the average organization.
The dispute began on Jan. 13 when Kendrick sent a letter titled "Buy Up/Buy Out" to the 22 minority owners with shares under 1%.