Miami Marlins

Marlins president: Sales talks ‘further than we’ve been, but a lot can still happen’

Team president David Samson confirmed Tuesday that discussions with multiple parties interested in buying the Marlins are ongoing.

Samson also said he would not be shocked if the team had a new owner by the end of the season.

“Is the fourth inning advanced?” Samson asked a reporter Tuesday. “A lot can happen after the fourth inning, right? Then I’d say we’re in the fourth inning right now. We’ve never gotten past the second inning before, so it’s further than we’ve been, but a lot can still happen.”

Samson spoke to the media prior to the Marlins’ home opener against the Braves about the potential sale of the club but did not elaborate on who the multiple suitors were.

Reports surfaced recently that retired New York Yankees shortstop and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter was part of an interested group, as well as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

“Everyone wants to finish first and no one wants to have their names involved if they’re not finishing first,” Samson said. “I get that and I’m respectful of it.”

Samson said there have always been multiple parties interested in buying the franchise, but the difference this time is owner Jeffrey Loria is more willing to listen to potential buyers.

“This is Jeffrey’s 18th season in baseball I would say there is more interest as he thinks about where he is and what he’s accomplished,” Samson said. “You say maybe it’s time, but you don’t know for sure. You’re willing to listen.

“It’s hard to know what the timing is, but it would not shock me. It feels different this time.”

Samson said several factors might be playing a role in Loria’s willingness to entertain offers at this time including the tragic death of Jose Fernandez last season.

“It’s impossible to say that everything doesn’t factor into decisions,” Samson said. “Everything that goes on such as having a losing season, losing your best pitcher, the emotional aftermath of it. Those things hurt and take a toll. It’s not the defining decision, but it’s definitely part of the decision. It’s important for all of us.”

Loria’s reported asking price on the franchise is $1.6 billion.

According to a report by Forbes magazine, the Marlins are valued at $940 million, which ranks them 25th among the 30 major-league franchises.

Loria and Giancarlo Stanton were also each ranked among the top 100 “most powerful figures” in Major League Baseball, according to a report by USA Today. Loria was ranked 28th and Stanton also made the list at No. 91. Jeter was ranked No. 22.

Samson, however, said he has never taken Forbes’ estimates seriously.

“I never have [believed in Forbes’ estimates],” Samson said. “They could have had us at $3 billion and I’d say they same thing. They have no idea any of the numbers of the team. They have no idea about what supply and demand means. All they do is sit in a room and pretend to assign values to teams based on complete fantasy.”

Samson said with sale discussions ongoing, discussions on potential naming rights for Marlins Park have stalled. He said he fully expects the ballpark to retain its current name by July when the Marlins host their first All-Star Game.

“We’ve taken a step back from that given the process that we’re under,” Samson said. “It’s a long term decision to make. It’s Jeffrey’s decision to make because he’s the owner but I think he recognizes that with not wanting to tie down and make a decision for 10-15 years at this point when you’re ‘in the fourth inning.’ ”

Related stories from Miami Herald