The Miami Marlins could shortly have some new and famous owners, after Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter agreed a deal to buy the team.
According to reports on Tuesday, a group led by the Florida governor turned failed presidential candidate and the ex-Yankees captain has agreed a deal in principle to purchase the team from Jeffrey Loria, the New York art dealer and longtime Marlins owner. The Miami Herald suggested the deal could be worth $1.3bn.
The Herald described Bush as the “control person” for the five-person ownership group, while Jeter would also have an active role.
... And this: I am told that Jeb Bush will be control person, though group has more than 5 investors. Jeter plans active role.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) April 25, 2017
Loria bought the team for $158m in 2003, the season the Florida Marlins, as they were then, won the World Series. But the Marlins have failed to make the postseason since then, and the Loria era has marked by frequent teardowns and rebuilds.
The 76-year-old Loria had reportedly been in negotiations to sell the Marlins to the family of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, for about $1.6bn – a staggering profit on the sum Loria paid 14 years ago. But the deal was scuppered in February when it emerged that Loria was being tapped by Trump as the next American ambassador to France; the Kushner family admitted the sale might “complicate” the ambassadorial appointment, and the deal was called off.
The Kushners said at the time: “Although the Kushners have made substantial progress in discussions for us to purchase the Marlins, recent reports suggest that Mr Loria will soon be nominated by the president to be ambassador to France. If that is true, we do not want this unrelated transaction to complicate that process and will not pursue it. The Kushners remain interested in purchasing a team and would love to buy the Marlins at another time.”
The Bush-Jeter bid is not a done deal, though: at least 75% of MLB owners must approve the takeover for it to become official.
The Marlins declined to comment. Team president David Samson said: “I have not commented on the process and plan to keep it that way. Thank you.”
In December, Jeter, a 14-time all-star who spent his entire career with the Yankees and retired in 2014 with a batting average of .310, said it had long been an ambition to own a baseball team. “I’ve made it very clear of ownership aspirations at some point,” he said. “Who knows when that is, who knows if you get the opportunity. I hope I do.”
Jeter and Bush have houses in Tampa and Cape Coral respectively. If the deal goes through, Jeb would not be the first Bush to own a share of a major league team. George W Bush, Jeb’s elder brother, owned a controlling share of the Texas Rangers between 1989 and 1998, serving as the team’s managing general partner for five years.