Jorge Mas, who was bidding against Derek Jeter to buy the Miami Marlins, is in talks to join the former Yankees captain’s winning bid group as controlling owner of the Major League Baseball team, according to people familiar with the matter.
The chairman of MasTec Inc. would put in at least $200 million and replace Bruce Sherman as the controlling owner in Jeter’s $1.2 billion bid, the people said, asking not to be named because the talks are confidential. Sherman had agreed to put up $400 million to secure approval from MLB officials.
The former New York Yankees captain and his partners won the Major League Baseball team with a bid of $1.2 billion, a deal that was first reported by the Miami Herald. The offer was chosen by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria over a lower bid from Mas. The reported purchase price is about 26 percent higher than the team’s valuation by Forbes magazine.
Getting Mas, a Cuban-American entrepreneur, would be a win for MLB, adding an owner with not only deep pockets but strong local roots. The deal requires approval from MLB owners.
Representatives for Jeter and Loria didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative for Mas declined to comment.
The sale ends Loria’s divisive reign in South Florida. Loria bought the team in 2002 for $158 million, and the next year, the Marlins won the World Series. They haven’t made the playoffs since, and Loria alienated fans by threatening to move the team to secure public funding for Marlins Park and selling off players to minimize the team’s losses. In 2012, a Miami Herald poll put his favorability rating at 6 percent.
“The people of Miami are happy to have a new ownership group,” said Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami-Dade County. “I hope there are no holdovers. It would be a mistake for him to start that way,” he said, referring to Jeter.
Sherman, a co-founder and former chairman of Legg Mason Inc.’s Private Capital Management, was poised to become the team’s managing partner, according to the earlier Herald report. Jeter, who is contributing $25 million, will run the business and baseball sides of the organization. NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan is also part of the group.
They’re getting a team that hasn’t had a winning record since 2009. The Marlins are currently in second place in the National League East but far out of playoff contention. Despite a relatively new stadium, attendance is consistently among the lowest in baseball — so far in 2017, the team’s average attendance of 20,796 ranks 28th among 30 teams.
Though the team is losing money, the next ownership group will reap the benefits of a new naming rights deal for the stadium. Team executives have also said they’re exploring a reworked local television contract. The current deal with Fox expires after the 2020 season. According to the Miami Herald, the team gets about $20 million a year from Fox, the lowest in baseball.
This is the second time a Jeter-led bid has won an auction for the Miami franchise. The sale process began in February when Loria came close to a deal with the Kushner family, relatives by marriage to President Donald Trump. In April, Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush submitted a $1.3 billion offer that was accepted by Loria, though the group was unable to raise enough money to complete the transaction.
As Jeter pursued a new bid group, other prospective bidders, including Bush, Quogue Capital founder Wayne Rothbaum and Mitt Romney’s son, Tagg, pursued their own groups, occasionally teaming up on potential bids. In the end, the Jeter and Mas groups were the only ones left.
All team sales are subject to approval by MLB. As a 14-time All Star and career Yankee, Jeter isn’t expected to have trouble getting the blessing of the league. He’s sixth on baseball’s all-time hits list (3,465) and a shoo-in to join the Hall of Fame when he’s eligible in 2020.
Since retiring, Jeter, 43, has helped launch a handful of business ventures, including The Players Tribune, a publication that features first-person stories by athletes. A Florida resident, he’s often spoken about his desire to own an MLB franchise.
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