Ryan said he and Sanders do not have the resources to buy the team themselves but would have to put together a partnership group to do it.
Sanders is a Houston banker who was a minority partner with the Astros when Ryan signed with them as a free agent in 1980. The two have since paired in a number of business ventures, including their Minor League teams and in the banking industry.
Ryan said he would prefer to form his ownership group with Sanders rather than be a part of another group trying to buy the club. But he said he would be willing to at least talk with any other prospective buyers if they approach him about joining their group.
"I'd just have to see who they are and what their thoughts are on it," Ryan said.
Hicks has owned the team since 1998 and is currently trying to sell at least part of the team to help pay off some off Hicks Sports Group's significant debt. He originally said he was looking for a partner to buy up to 49 percent of the franchise.
But on Thursday Hicks said that he would be willing to sell more than just a minority interest. Hicks said he might be willing to become the minority partner and give up controlling interest in the Rangers to the right buyer. Hicks still wants to be a part of the Rangers going forward but a change in controlling interest would be a significant development.
"If there is a change or a new owner, there are probably going to be some changes," Ryan said. "Where that goes, no one really knows."
Hicks said if there is a change in ownership, he would like Ryan to be a part of it. Ryan was hired as club president in January 2008 and is signed to a contract through 2011. Ryan said he has met some of the prospective buyers in his role as president but has not had any substantive talks with Hicks about joining any ownership group.
"I think that with everything that's been said lately, it's better to let things settle down," Ryan said. "These are tough times. When something of this nature comes up, you don't like to see anybody go through it. Obviously it has an impact on the organization."
Hicks bought the team in 1998 for $250 million from a group originally headed by Rusty Rose, Tom Schieffer and former President George W. Bush. Forbes Magazine listed the franchise value at $405 million in April. Any change in controlling interest would have to be approved by the other 29 owners.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.