After months of speculation, the Miami Marlins appear to be moving closer toward a sale. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says he’s “convinced” the team will be sold, and a group led by Derek Jeter remains one of the favorites.
Manfred expressed that opinion during an interview on Sirius XM Radio. Here’s the key portion of that interview from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
“There is an amazing amount of interest actually,” Manfred told Craig Mish and Jim Bowden in an interview on Sirius XM Radio. “People kind of focused on the Jeter group and Romney group. There are other interested buyers out there. There is by no means just those two. They are the furthest along. They’ve made robust offers, both of them. I remain of the view that one of them is probably the most likely to end up as the new owner of the team. Even if it’s not one of those two, I am convinced the Marlins are going to sell.”
Manfred not only believes the Marlins will be sold, but thinks either Jeter or Tagg Romney will be part of the winning group. Throughout the process, both groups have been considered the favorites. Manfred confirmed that was the case, though admitted there are others involved in the bidding.
Jeter’s pursuit of the team hasn’t come without obstacles. The former New York Yankees legend initially partnered up with former Florida governor Jeb Bush to buy the franchise. Bush left Jeter’s group in May after reportedly engaging in a power struggle with the shortstop.
Romney’s group also includes some former players. Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine and former Oakland Athletics pitcher and Arizona Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart are reportedly working with Romney to buy the team. They’ve managed to avoid drama, at least publicly.
While Manfred suggested both groups were still in the running, it’s clear he realizes the appeal of having Jeter back in the game, according to the Herald.
“I am a huge fan of Derek, professionally and personally,” Manfred said. “He went to Cuba with us at the beginning of last season. Was a great ambassador for the game. Him being involved with a club would be an asset. [But] what we really want, what we really want, is the most stable, well financed group to take over the Marlins, so that baseball in South Florida can be a success to the fans.”
A decision could come soon. Manfred said he was hoping to “get some clarity well before the trading deadline.” The commissioner wants to make sure the new ownership group is involved in any major moves the Marlins consider making at the deadline.
While the price on the submitted bids is not known, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was reportedly seeking $1.7 billion for the franchise in December.
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