A group of investors led by New York businessman Bruce Sherman and including retired New York Yankees star Derek Jeter has agreed a deal to buy the Miami Marlins for US$1.2 billion, according to multiple US media reports.
A written agreement outlining the terms of the deal is to be submitted to Major League Baseball (MLB) on Friday, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, whose latest report cites ‘a New York based MLB source’ and has been confirmed by Fox and USA Today.
Sherman, a venture capitalist, will be the control person in the new ownership group while Jeter, who has been linked with a takeover of the Marlins for several months and is said to be contributing US$25 million to the deal, will run the team’s business and baseball operations.
The pair are understood to be leading a group that includes ‘about 16 investors’, according to Jackson, including basketball legend Michael Jordan, who is a friend of Jeter’s; former Morgan Stanley wealth management chief Greg Fleming; former Goldman Sachs executive Doug Kimmelman; and investment advisor John Troiano.
Sherman is a Marlins fan and was previously the chairman and chief investment officer of Private Capital Management. He reportedly upped his investment in the Marlins bid group after another investor, Richard Chaifetz, dropped out.
Jackson reports that MLB executives will discuss the sale, but not vote on it, during the league’s owners’ meetings in Chicago next week, and the deal is expected to close in early October.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria (pictured) has been seeking to offload the team for some time, in what has become one of the messiest franchise sale sagas in recent memory.
In April it was reported that Loria, who bought the Marlins for US$158 million in 2002, had agreed a US$1.3 billion deal to sell the team to a group led by Jeter and his then-investment partner Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.
However, that deal failed to materialise and Jeter and Bush parted ways, leaving Loria to continue discussions with at least three prospective ownership groups. One group led by New York businessman Wayne Rothbaum reportedly dropped its pursuit earlier this week, while another spearheaded by Jorge Mas is said to have refused to meet Loria’s asking price.
Back in February, it was also reported that Loria had settled on a US$1.6 billion “handshake agreement” to sell the Marlins to Joshua Kushner, whose older brother Jared is a White House advisor and the son-in-law of President Trump.
Kushner later dropped his bid due to perceived conflicts of interest, with reports of the deal coming amid rumours that Loria was being considered for the role of US ambassador to France, a coveted envoy position chosen by Trump.
In recent weeks there have been multiple reports saying a deal could be imminent. In July, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN that Loria should “have the luxury” of selecting a buyer “in fairly short order” given that the bidding parties are all “essentially in the same place in terms of price.”
Though the Marlins won baseball’s World Series in 2003, the team has not made the MLB playoffs since and are expected to lose more than US$60 million this season, in part due to flagging attendances and revenues, a high payroll and a local TV contract that pays the lowest of any in the league.