Jeter-Bush Lead Bidders for Marlins, Romney Hanging In

An investment team led by former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have been declared the “preferred bidder” to purchase the Miami Marlins baseball team, FOX Business has learned.

The price tag for the deal, which as of Monday has yet to be finalized, is said to be approximately $1.2 billion, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. FOX Business had previously reported the deal range was $800 million to $1.6 billion.

Marlins’ current owner Jeffrey Loria has expressed interest in selling the team since late last year. He paid $158 million for the team back in 2002. The scarcity of Major League Baseball teams for sale could help him fetch him a premium.

As the deal moves towards being finalized, other potential bidders are still looking for a way to keep the process alive. One of those includes an investment group led by Tagg Romney, the son of former 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The younger Romney is the managing partner at Solamere Capital, a Boston-based investment firm.

One of the reasons the deal is not totally finalized is that the Jeb-Jeter team is looking for funding sources.  Major League Baseball wants the majority of funding to be a cash bid  and less borrowing from banks to finance the purchase. With that, the official deal may not be announced for weeks.

Jeb Bush would not be the first member of the well-known political family to own a baseball team. Jeb Bush’s older brother and former President George W. Bush, owned the Texas Rangers from 1989 to 1998.

Jeter, meanwhile, has made no secret of his desire to buy an MLB team, as FOX Business was first to report in 2015. During his 20 seasons with the Yankees, he has won the MVP award and numerous World Series, and his considered a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame. More recently, he has launched a series of private businesses including The Players’ Tribune, where athletes provide first-person accounts of their lives and careers.

He has also maintained ties to at least two Wall Street firms, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, where executives have expressed interest in hiring him in some capacity. But over the past year, people who know Jeter say he is most animated with the possibility of being a team owner – a move that has set off a frenzy of investment banking discussions about how to best finance such a deal.

People representing Jeter and Bush did not return a call for comment, nor did a spokesperson for the Miami Marlins. A Major League Baseball representative did not comment. It is unclear if the team will announce that Jeter and Bush have won the bidding war today or if an announcement will come later. Some people close to the process speculate that the official announcement will be made in the coming weeks.