Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush are part of an investors’ group that has reached a tentative agreement to purchase the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria after their bid was accepted over several other interested parties.
Once the negotiations conclude and necessary contracts get signed, assuming the necessary financing is in place, the transaction requires approval from at least 23 Major League Baseball owners, which would probably be a formality given the stature of the principals.
“The Marlins and the Bush group are very optimistic a deal will be finalized, but the process could take months to conclude,” an unnamed baseball source told the Miami Herald.
As yet, there is no official confirmation that the Jeter-Bush group won the Marlins auction, however, although MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is on record saying that a Jeter-owned team would be good for baseball. Derek Jeter spent his entire 20-year playing career with the New York Yankees, who will retire his number in a Yankee Stadium ceremony on May 14.
Jeter, who now lives in Tampa, has long had an interest in becoming an owner. It’s not clear how large his actual stake in the team will be, however. If the sale goes through, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate who President Trump famously described as low energy, will be the boss of the entire operation. Jeter evidently plans to play a day-to-day role in management to some degree. The other investors have yet to be identified.
Loria originally bought the team in 2002 for $158.5 million. If approved, the Jeter-Bush group will reportedly cough up $1.3 billion, a sizable return on Loria’s investment and the second-highest baseball team sale ever; the Los Angeles Dodgers sold for $2 billion in 2012, the New York Times explained.
Formerly the Florida Marlins, the team moved to Marlins Park in downtown Miami in 2012, where they are still attendance-challenged (as is Florida’s other MLB Team, the American League’s Tampa Bay Rays). The Marlins won the World Series in 1997 and 2003 (they beat Jeter and the Yankees for the second title), qualifying for the playoffs as the National League Wild Card team both times.
Ownership controversially dismantled the team after each world championship, which didn’t go over well with the fans. The Marlins have failed to qualify for the postseason in 13 consecutive seasons since then. Many baseball observers believe that the ex-Yankees superstar shortstop and future Hall of Famer, who earned five World Series rings, could bring renewed credibility to the Marlins franchise.
“Jeb Bush couldn’t win the White House as brother George W. Bush did. But with Jeter at his side, he has a chance to win the World Series title his brother couldn’t as owner of the Texas Rangers,” ESPN noted.
The Marlins can increase their revenue stream by selling naming rights to the stadium and reworking their local television contract, several news outlets suggested, which in turn could help them afford free-agent signings. Marlins Park hosts the 2017 MLB All-Star game in July.
In another Bronx Bombers connection, former Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly, aka Donnie Baseball, is the Marlins’ manager.
According to Forbes columnist Mike Ozanian, the Jeter-Bush Marlins purchase is not a done deal by any means.
“According to my sources, the Derek Jeter-Jeb Bush team has submitted a ‘non-binding indication of interest,’ which can be walked away from at any time at no cost. It’s akin to saying you’d be willing to pay a certain amount for a house before having an inspection done or taking a look at the property taxes. My sources say the Jeter-Bush group can put in about $200 million of equity and are currently ‘running around looking to raise money.’”
[Featured Image by Steven Senne/AP Images]