MIAMI – Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says the Miami Marlins are soon expected to choose a winning bid from among three investment groups seeking to buy the team, and all have offered about the same amount of money.
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The three groups are working on financial structuring, legal issues and due diligence in preparation for a purchase, Manfred said Tuesday.
"When that process is complete, the Marlins will pick a winning bidder," Manfred said, "and I'm pretty confident that that will happen in the relatively near future."
His comments came hours before the Marlins hosted the first All-Star Game in Florida.
One investment group includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Massachusetts businessman Tagg Romney. A second group is led by former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, a 14-time All-Star, and includes NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. The third group is led by South Florida businessman Jorge Mas.
Jeffrey Loria has owned the Marlins since 2002. He spoke briefly to the media before the game but declined to say when he expects to sell the team.
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"At some point, maybe," Loria said. "Everybody sells something, maybe. Everybody gets married or unmarried, maybe."
Mas, a longtime Marlins season-ticket holder, was a late entry in the competition to buy the team. He sat near Loria at the All-Star Game.
"Those were seats he purchased," team president David Samson said. "There's no hidden meaning on that."
Mas is the chairman of the board and co-founder of MasTec, an infrastructure construction business, and chairman of the board of the Cuban American National Foundation, a Miami-based organization committed to bringing democracy to Cuba.
"The Mas family has been a prominent — maybe not a strong enough word — pre-eminent family in the Miami community for a very long time," Manfred said. "Obviously one of the things we always like to see in an ownership group is deep, deep roots in the community, and they certainly would satisfy that."
The Marlins haven't been to the playoffs since 2003. Samson — likely the outgoing president — spoke during the game of the drought, the longest in the NL.
"We owe Miami a winner, and I think about it every day," Samson said. "We're going to keep working hard to figure out a way to do it. We just haven't been successful, and that's my fault."
Samson defended Loria and said all three owners during the team's 25-year history helped make it possible for the All-Star Game to come to Miami.
"Over time people will realize the impact each owner has had," Samson said, "and we'll see what's next."
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