Baseball executives say Major League Baseball appears to be growing impatient with the impasse over the sale of the Miami Marlins, and its commissioner may tell the team owner exactly that at next week’s owner’s meeting, FOX Business has learned.
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The Marlin’s owner, Jeffrey Loria, is still weighing three bids ranging from $1 billion to $1.3 billion for the financially struggling team, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. These bidders include South Florida businessman Jorge Mas, financier Wayne Rothbaum and former Yankees all-star Derek Jeter.
“The commissioner’s office wants this to happen and you may see [league management] say that at next week’s meeting,” said one baseball executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
A spokesman for Major League Baseball said it’s “inaccurate” to describe the commissioner as being impatient with the Marlins sale, but would not elaborate.
Mas and Rothbaum are considered to be leading contenders given their substantial liquid assets which is preferred by Major League Baseball, even though their bids are below the $1.3 billion Jeter is trying to cobble together through various, less liquid outside investors, people close to the bidding say.
Jeter, however, continues to raise money through his investment banker, former Morgan Stanley top executive Gregory Fleming. As FOX Business was first to report, the Jeter group recently received an investment from a firm affiliated with personal computer impresario Michael Dell.
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But Loria and his team’s president David Samson have yet to name a winner of the bidding war, a move that is worrying some baseball executives and even some in the commissioner’s office, sources tell FOX Business. The Marlins continue to lose money, have heavy debt and will be on the hook for major player contracts that have ballooning payments in the years ahead.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred may alert Loria to his concerns about the team, and the prolonged bidding process at the owner’s meeting in Chicago, scheduled to take place Aug. 16 and 17, these people add.
A spokesman for the Marlins didn’t return a call for comment, nor did spokesmen for Mas, Rothbaum and Jeter.
Loria has expressed interest in selling the Marlins since late last year, and the bidding war for the team—one of the league’s more mediocre franchises—has captivated Major League Baseball for months because of the high-profile potential owners to have emerged. At one point, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as well as Tagg Romney, a hedge fund manager and son of 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, were heading bidding groups for the franchise.
Loria paid $158 million for the team back in 2002, and the Marlins have struggled in recent years both on the field and financially with high levels of debt and operating losses. Still, Loria could fetch a significant premium in any sale given the scarcity of MLB teams available to be purchased.