Manfred: Multiple groups have submitted bids to buy Marlins

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred (Morry Gash/AP)

MIAMI — Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush still haven’t touched all the bases in their bid to buy the Miami Marlins. Far from it.

Multiple groups have submitted bids to buy the team, and none has yet been accepted, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday. His comments came after Bloomberg reported a group led by former New York Yankees captain Jeter and former Florida Gov. Bush won an auction for the team with a $1.3 billion bid.

"There are multiple groups interested in acquiring the Marlins," Manfred said in Pittsburgh while attending the Pirates-Cubs game. "One of those groups is the Bush-Jeter group. When we have a resolution as to which bid is going to be accepted, we will announce that."

Completion of any sale by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could take months and would require approval by at least 75 per cent of the major league teams. More than half of the winning bid could involve cash because of MLB’s debt service rule, meaning the Bush-Jeter group would need to raise a lot of money.

"You can rest assured that the acquiring group, whoever it turns out to be, will have a financial structure — meaning some debt and the rest equity — that is consistent with the rules that we have, most notably the debt service rule," Manfred said. "And more important than complying with the rules, (that) puts the franchise in a position that it can operate effectively. That’s really the commissioner’s office’s job in terms of approving any potential bidding group, and we are really focused on that issue with respect to the Marlins."

The debt service rule was expanded under the new collective bargaining agreement to include club-supported debt incurred by the club or any club-related party.

Quogue Capital investment fund founder Wayne Rothbaum has also pursued the Marlins, and talks with him might be restarted if any deal with the Bushes and Jeter stalls. Joshua Kushner, whose older brother is an adviser to President Donald Trump, had a preliminary agreement to buy the team for $1.6 billion before breaking off negotiations.

Bush’s group includes his 33-year-old son, Jeb Jr., who has worked in politics and real estate. The Bushes and Jeter initially had competing interests in efforts to buy the team before joining forces.

Spokesmen for Jeter and Bush had no comment. Marlins manager Don Mattingly — who was Jeter’s teammate and coach with the Yankees — declined to discuss the possibility of them joining forces in Miami.

"Nobody in the front office has told me anything about it," Mattingly said. "It’s premature for me to talk about it."

Jeter, a 14-time All-Star who retired in 2014 after 20 seasons with the Yankees, has long talked about owning a franchise. Jeter, 42, lives in Tampa and is expected to take an active role in operations of the team.

Jeb Bush, 64, served two terms as governor from 1999-2007. He was an unsuccessful candidate last year for the Republican nomination for president, and since the November election he has been working for a Florida law firm. His brother, former President George W. Bush, was controlling owner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 until he became governor of Texas in 1995.

Sale of the Marlins would be widely applauded in South Florida, where Loria has become unpopular because of his tight budgets, payroll purges and a financing agreement for 5-year-old Marlins Park widely viewed as unfair to taxpayers.

It has been eight years since the Marlins had a winning season, and despite a new ballpark, they’ve finished last in the National League in attendance 11 of the past 12 years.

Loria, 76, bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry, part of the Boston Red Sox ownership group that has celebrated three World Series titles. The Marlins won the World Series in 2003 but haven’t been to the post-season since, the longest current drought in the NL.


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