The Miami Marlins have a “handshake agreement” to sell the team for $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.
The publication, citing two unnamed sources, said Marlins president David Samson has said the team has an agreement to sell the franchise.
When reached by the Herald, Samson said he had “no comment at all.”
There has been increased speculation within baseball circles that owner Jeffrey Loria intends to sell the team after hosting the All-Star Game at Marlins Park this summer. The Marlins haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2009 and last reached the playoffs in 2003 when they won the World Series. Their playoff drought is the second-longest in Major League Baseball.
“He’s going to sell it, no doubt about it,” said one team official, who spoke only under the condition he not be identified.
Loria paid $158 million when he bought the team in 2002.
According to Forbes, the $1.6 billion handshake agreement is with a real estate developer based in New York. But the article went on to say that “the potential buyer is not liquid, meaning he does not have the cash to buy the Marlins because his net worth is tied up in real estate. Thus, for the real estate developer to purchase the Marlins would likely require more debt than MLB would be comfortable with.” If it is a New York real estate developer, a source says it won’t be Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
According to an Associated Press report, “the deal could fall through because the final purchase price hasn’t been determined.” The report added that the final offer could be much lower and negotiations could be opened again.
Further fueling speculation that Loria is not in it for the long haul have been recent roster moves geared for the present and not the future. While the Marlins are projected to have a franchise-record player payroll in excess of $100 million this season, they have traded off many of their top prospects, creating a minor-league farm system that is thin on budding talent and ranked as one of the worst in the majors.
PHELPS WINS ARBITRATION HEARING
David Phelps notched his first win of the season, and spring training hasn’t even started.
On Thursday, Phelps won his salary arbitration case against the Marlins.
An independent arbitrator sided with Phelps, awarding him the $4.6 million salary figure he was seeking for the 2017 season.
The Marlins argued that Phelps should receive $4.325 million.
It’s not the first time Phelps and the Marlins have gone toe-to-toe in arbitration. In 2015, he lost his salary disagreement with the Marlins through the arbitration process.
Phelps has emerged as a key cog in the back end of the Marlins bullpen as a setup reliever.
But Phelps has proved his versatility by both starting and serving in long relief for the Marlins.