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Jeffrey Loria has sold the Miami Marlins to a group that includes former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and New York businessman Bruce Sherman.
Per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and CBS Miami’s Mike Cugno, Marlins president David Samson announced the agreement to sell the team had been signed. Cugno added the deal is expected to be finalized in October.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported Friday that Loria agreed to sell the Marlins for $1.2 billion, with Sherman serving as the “control person” and Jeter running “the business and baseball sides of the organization” after the deal becomes official. NBA legend Michael Jordan is also an investor in the group.
There has been speculation about a Marlins sale dating back to February, when Mike Ozanian of Forbes reported Loria had a handshake deal to sell the franchise for $1.6 billion that was never made official because a majority of the potential buyer’s net worth was not actual cash but tied up in real estate.
Steven Wine of the Associated Press (via the Chicago Tribune) reported Joshua Kushner was the buyer who had a preliminary agreement with the Marlins. Kushner later ceased negotiations, per Mark Moore of the New York Post.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported on March 4 Loria was “fully expected to sell the team sometime this year” and the team was “actively engaged in discussions with four groups and have had additional conversations with two others.”
Loria’s ownership of the Marlins has drawn its share of scrutiny. He previously owned the Montreal Expos before selling the franchise to Major League Baseball in 2002 for $120 million, then bought the Marlins for a total of $158 million by procuring the additional $38 million in a loan from MLB, per ESPN.com.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation in 2011 regarding the financing for Marlins Park. It took four years and was eventually closed with no charges brought against the team, though David Smiley of the Miami Herald did note Miami-Dade County wound up taking on “more than $2 billion in debt to finance the stadium’s construction.”
Loria has rarely shown a willingness to run the Marlins as anything more than a business to make himself money, even at the expense of the franchise and its fanbase.
The Marlins had an Opening Day payroll over $75 million once from 2000 to 2016, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. That was in 2012, the first year of Marlins Park when the team surprisingly opened its wallet to sign Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.
The Marlins are spending a franchise-record $115.4 million on payroll in 2017, per Cot’s, though Josh Kosman and Claire Atkinson of the New York Post reported in July the team could lose $70 million this season.
After the team went 69-93 in 2012, Loria traded Reyes, Buehrle and Josh Johnson, whose combined salary heading into 2013 was $35.75 million, to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of a 12-player deal to dump payroll.
The Marlins did win the World Series in 2003, Loria’s second season as owner of the franchise, but have missed the playoffs in each of the last 13 seasons with just four winning years during that span.
The sale of the Marlins gets Loria exactly what he wants—a nice payout on an investment he basically got MLB to pay for—and will hopefully get the franchise back on track after years of mismanagement.