Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is finalizing an agreement to sell the team to a group that includes former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for $1.2 billion, a source confirmed to ESPN on Friday.
The deal is likely to be announced “in the coming days,” the source said.
The Miami Herald was first to report the pending agreement between Loria and a group headed by Bruce Sherman, a New York venture capitalist whose contingent has about 16 investors.
Sherman will be the control person for the Marlins’ new ownership group and will represent the organization at Major League Baseball meetings, while Jeter — who is reportedly investing about $25 million of his own money — will run the baseball side of the operation, the Herald reported.
Jeter, 43, retired after 20 seasons as the Yankees’ shortstop. A 14-time All-Star, Jeter lives in Tampa and has long talked of his desire to own a franchise. He has no front-office experience.
The Sherman-Jeter group, which also includes former NBA great Michael Jordan, beat out a contingent led by Miami businessman Jorge Mas. Quogue Capital founder Wayne Rothbaum, who led a third group that included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, dropped out of the bidding earlier this week.
Jordan, who would be a minority owner of the team, joined Jeter’s original bid. Jordan’s business manager, Estee Portnoy, confirmed with ESPN on Friday that the Charlotte Hornets owner is still part of the investment team.
In 2002, Jeter became the first baseball player to be sponsored by Jordan’s Nike Jumpman brand. Jeter is still under contract.
Jordan upgraded his stake in the NBA’s Hornets, then the Bobcats, from a minority share to a majority share in 2010 at a valuation of $275 million. Forbes magazine says the Hornets are now worth $780 million.
Loria bought the Marlins from John Henry in 2002 for $158 million, funding the purchase by selling the Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball for $120 million and covering the rest with a $38 million loan from MLB.
The Marlins won the World Series in 2003, but haven’t made the playoffs since. Loria has become increasingly more unpopular in South Florida in recent years after the team moved into a new, largely publicly financed stadium and fielded payrolls among the lowest in the game.
Loria’s decision to sell the team became public in February, and Jeter’s interest became public in April.
At the start of spring training, Marlins president David Samson said a “confluence of events” prompted Loria to put the franchise on the market. The owner was close to pitcher Jose Fernandez and badly shaken by the young ace’s death in a boat crash last September.
The Marlins increased their payroll to $115 million this season, but the combination of lagging attendance and relatively meager TV revenue had resulted in Loria incurring substantial debt. The Herald reported that the Marlins are expected to lose about $60 million this season.
MLB owners are scheduled to meet in Chicago next week, but a source said they do not plan to vote to approve the Marlins sale at that time. The Herald said the sale agreement between Loria and the Sherman-Jeter group might not be complete until early October.
Samson declined to comment Friday.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who also had a storied playing career with the Yankees, said he knew nothing about Jeter becoming a team owner, but predicted he would do well.
“Derek has been successful at everything he’s tried to do,” Mattingly said before Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies. “What Derek’s been able to do with his career, who he is as a person, there’s nothing in there that leads you to believe that he’s not going to be successful with really whatever he wants to do.”
Rockies manager Bud Black said it would be good to get Jeter back in the sport.
“I think Derek Jeter needs to be in the game — that’s the main thing,” Black said. “A player like Jeter and what he meant to his generation of players in that era that he played, and now to continue in the game, I think it’s wonderful.”
The Marlins are 53-60 this season and second in the National League East, 15 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals.
Amid speculation that team management might consider a roster sell-off at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Marlins traded away shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and relievers David Phelps and A.J. Ramos, but elected to hang on to outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and other roster mainstays. Loria signed Stanton to a major-league-record 13-year, $325 million contract in November 2014.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Source: Jeter among group set to buy Marlins