Major League Baseball is moving to formally approve Derek Jeter’s bid to purchase and run the Miami Marlins, with a owners vote being scheduled in the coming days that would solidify the former Yankee great’s post-baseball dream of owning a team, the FOX Business Network has learned.
According to senior baseball executives, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred would like to have an owners vote before the playoffs begin next week, and could even schedule it before week’s end. In order to officially win control of the Marlins, Jeter would need the approval of 75% of the team owners, who must feel comfortable with how he is financing the deal.
As FOX Business was first to report, Jeter and his bidding group’s $1.2 billion offer for the Marlins is being reviewed by MLB officials in what one called a “proctology exam” to determine its soundness. Initially baseball executives believed the review could take an extended period of time, possibly even two months. But one baseball executive with direct knowledge of the matter says there is nothing to indicate that the MLB has found anything wrong with the bid, and Jeter and his group could become the official owners of the Marlins as early as this week.
“The word is baseball is about to schedule a vote on this,” the executive said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to discuss the matter. “And it could happen this week,” he added.
A spokesman for Major League Baseball confirmed that the vote will happen in the coming days and wouldn’t deny that the vote could happen this week. A representative for Jeter didn’t return calls for comment.
The MLB had originally scheduled its vote for the first week in October, and it’s unclear why Manfred is seeking an expedited vote other than to have questions surrounding one of the league’s more financially troubled franchises resolved so that it can focus on the playoffs.
Meanwhile Jeter is already acting like he’s running the Marlins; he has reportedly fired four special assistants including several former stars of the team: Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jeff Conine, as well as Jack McKeon, the manager who led the Marlins to their 2003 World Series victory over the Yankees.
Since retiring in 2014, Jeter has made no secret of his desire to run a major league franchise as his post-baseball career. As reported, Jeter’s investor group was recently selected by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria as the winning bid for the franchise, ending a five-month contest among a slew of prominent investors and even some politicians looking to purchase the team. The Marlins are one of the MLB’s more mediocre franchises on the field, yet even worse is the team’s financial condition, which includes poor attendance, high levels of debt and tens of millions of dollars a year in losses, according to baseball executives.
The Marlins are likely to finish below .500 when the regular season for 2017 ends early next week and will not make the playoffs for the 14th straight year. The last time they made the playoffs was in 2003, when the team beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Jeter – a perennial All Star during his 20-year career with the Yankees and a likely Hall of Famer – is said to have pledged around $20 million into the bidding group, but will run the team’s baseball operations. The team’s new control person—or de facto majority owner—is said to be Bruce Sherman, a wealthy venture capitalist and money manager who pledged $300 million in the bid, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. Sherman didn’t return calls for comment.
Jeter’s bid is said to be complex; it combines financial contributions from several investors other than Sherman and Jeter, including a chunk of money from a firm affiliated with personal computer honcho Michael Dell in the form of preferred stock, which might pose a problem for the MLB since such an investment has debt-like characteristics that the league frowns upon.
Sherman, meanwhile, has indicated he will play a hands-on role in the team's business affairs, while Jeter will play some management role, these people add. It’s unlikely anyone from current Marlins management will keep their jobs, baseball executives with knowledge of the matter say.
A spokesman for the Marlins didn’t return calls for comment.