SATURDAY 4:30pm: Speaking to the media Saturday afternoon, Samson confirmed that Jeter will run the Marlins’ baseball and business operations, writes Jackson. Samson’s own role going forward is unclear. “It has never been about me,” he says.
3:30pm: Mas will not be part of the group, according to Samson (via a tweet from the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson).
7:58am: Jorge Mas’ group did not win the bidding for the Marlins, but he could still be involved in the new Jeter-led ownership group as controlling owner, Scott Soshnick tweets. Via Heyman (on Twitter), Mas could invest up to $300MM.
FRIDAY 9:39pm: There’s a signed contract on its way to the commissioner’s office, per Heyman (via Twitter).
4:40pm: Current president David Samson and president of baseball ops Michael Hill are expected to retain roles with the organization once the deal goes through, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports. Whether that’s intended mostly to be transitional or instead to be permanent isn’t immediately clear. Heyman also suggests it’s not yet known whether Samson’s job duties would change under the new ownership group. The executive is believed to have just more than a year left on his current deal.
3:11pm: Evidently bringing an end to a long-running process, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has agreed to sell the franchise for $1.2 billion to a group featuring retired shortstop Derek Jeter, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
While it seemed months back that the Jeter-led outfit would land the club, that proved premature. Since, two other primary bidding groups have vied to take over from Loria — one led by Wayne Rothbaum, which dropped out recently, and another associated with Jorge Mas — with numerous twists and turns throughout.
Now, it seems, there’s finally a clear course — though it’s worth emphasizing that nothing has been finalized. Major League Baseball is expected to receive the written agreement Friday, per Spencer, but an approval vote might not take place for several weeks — with a formal closing not likely to occur until early October.
Jeter has long been the most visible member of his bidding group, and he’ll reportedly take primary responsibility for setting the course of both the baseball and business operations of the organization. But he’s not the primary money man and won’t be the formal control person vis-a-vis- the league.
Rather, Bruce Sherman — the former chairman of Private Capital Management — will reportedly function as the control person while also footing the bulk of the bill to acquire the franchise. He’s said to be a Marlins fan who enjoys a “great relationship” with Jeter; no doubt, the two will work closely. Something like sixteen other investors are also part of the group, according to Spencer, including NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Just what plans the Jeter/Sherman ownership outfit has in mind isn’t yet clear. But the current formula seems in need of some tweaking. The Marlins have failed to draw fans to the yard, despite a still-shiny (and heavily subsidized) ballpark. There’s a need to work out a new TV deal in the near future, with the team’s leverage perhaps dependent upon its ability to improve its seemingly tepid local support. That, in turn, may depend in large part upon an improvement in the on-field results; the club last posted a .500 record when it was still known as the Florida Marlins.
Driving improvement won’t be easy, especially with a generally low-regarded farm system, but there are some pieces to work with. Star Giancarlo Stanton has a huge contract, but has been outstanding this year, while younger players such as Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto, Dan Straily, and Justin Bour could function as building blocks or excellent trade chips. The club’s baseball ops group — the complexion of which isn’t yet clear — will need to overcome some other contracts that range from questionable (Dee Gordon, Brad Ziegler, Junichi Tazawa) to undeniably problematic (Wei-Yin Chen, Martin Prado, Edinson Volquez).
The Marlins’ payroll ballooned to over $115MM to open the 2017 season, by far an organizational high-point, and the results have been underwhelming. Unless the new ownership group is willing to pour some cash into improving around the core of young talent, the Fish may need to embark upon a rebuilding course this winter. Either way, it’ll be a fascinating offseason to watch.