SATURDAY 8:49am: Charles Kushner’s son Joshua — Jared Kushner’s younger brother — is the person with the preliminary agreement to buy the Marlins, Steven Wine of the AP writes. Charles and Jared Kushner are not believed to be involved with the deal. The team could sell for far less than $1.6 billion after Joshua Kushner does due diligence, according to Wine.
THURSDAY 5:24pm: Kushner is “not involved” in the reported handshake deal, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, and likely wouldn’t pass muster from the league’s perspective.
4:34pm: The league has issued a short statement on the matter (h/t Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, on Facebook): “Under Major League Baseball rules, the Commissioner’s Office must be informed of any conversations about a potential sale. The Commissioner’s Office has not heard directly or indirectly of any conversation involving Charles Kushner.”
3:55pm: New York real estate executive Charles Kushner is involved with at least one group making a bid for the Marlins, according to the AP and ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell, though it’s not clear how prominent a role he has or whether his party is the one referenced in this morning’s report. Assuming he is a part of the leading bid group, Kushner could complicate matters for the league. Beyond the cash shortfall noted by Ozanian, Kushner has a troubling criminal history, as this Bloomberg story details. And then there’s the fact that his son, Jared, is married into the family of and serves as a senior adviser to president Donald Trump.
10:27am: The Marlins have a “handshake agreement” in place to sell the team to a New York-based real estate developer for the price of $1.6 billion, reports Mike Ozanian of Forbes. Ozanian cites two anonymous sources that claim to have been told by Marlins president David Samson that the deal is in place. The $1.6 billion price tag would be more than 10 times the $158MM price at which owner Jeffrey Loria purchased the team back in 2002.
The hangup in the reported agreement for the time being is that the potential buyer does not have enough liquid assets to make the purchase, as the majority of his net worth is tied up in real estate investments. Allowing this buyer to purchase the team would require more debt than Major League Baseball would be comfortable with, per Ozanian.
As Ozanian points out, the Dodgers’ current ownership group took on an enormous amount of debt when buying the team for $2 billion, but Guggenheim Baseball Management also had hundred of millions of dollars in hedge fund money and a $6 billion television agreement that dwarfs the Marlins’ current contract with Fox Sports Florida.
Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes that he reached out to Samson in light of the Forbes report but was met with a reply of, “no comment at all.” There have been reports since December that Loria could consider a sale of the team, with Ozanian reporting at the time that Loria sought a $1.7 billion price tag. In Ozanian’s latest report, he notes that Solamere Capital considered purchasing the club and had been discussing a $1.4 billion price with Loria.
A sale of the Marlins would bring to a close one of the most controversial ownership tenures in recent history. Loria has been widely panned by both fans and the media for an unwillingness to spend on the on-field product, orchestrating multiple fire sales even after winning the World Series in 2003 and opening a new, taxpayer-funded stadium in 2012. As Vocativ’s Joe Lemire points out (on Twitter), if the sale of the team does ultimately go through, Loria will have paid just $15.5MM of the $325MM that is owed to star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton on his exceptionally backloaded 13-year contract.