Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has agreed to sell the franchise for $1.2 billion to a group led by New York businessman Bruce Sherman and former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter, according to a New York based MLB source.
The Marlins and the Sherman/Jeter group finalized their purchase agreement on Friday night and it was forwarded to Major League Baseball, sources said. The deal ultimately must be approved by three-quarters of MLB's 30 owners.
Sherman, 69, a wealthy venture capitalist who has a home in New York and is building a home in South Florida, will be the “control person,” similar to a managing general partner.
But Jeter, the former New York Yankees star shortstop, will run the business and baseball sides of the organization, the source said.
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The Sherman/Jeter group has about 16 investors and they have raised the money to purchase the team after months of seeking investors to meet Loria’s asking price, the source said.
Among the other investors: former NBA star Michael Jordan, who’s a friend of Jeter.
A purchase agreement with the Sherman/Jeter group, which has been worked on for months, is expected to be completed on Friday and submitted to MLB offices in New York.
Sherman, a Marlins fan, is known for his philanthropic work and previously was the chairman and chief investment officer of Naples-based Private Capital Management.
Sherman increased his investment in the Marlins bid after wealthy Chicago businessman Richard Chaifetz backed out of the deal.
Jeter is believed to be contributing only $25 million of his own money but has a great relationship with Sherman, who will allow Jeter to essentially run the organization.
MLB officials are expected to discuss the sale, but not vote on it, in owners meetings in Chicago next week. Sherman and possibly Jeter are expected to meet with the ownership committee prior for a full vote of owners, which is the final required step for the sale’s completion.
The vote could be weeks away, with closing expected the first week of October.
Miami businessman Jorge Mas also pursued the team and met with Marlins officials this week but did not match the $1.2 billion bid of the Sherman and Jeter group.
New York businessman Wayne Rothbaum, who led a competing group that included former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, also bid for the Marlins, before stopping his pursuit earlier this week.
Loria has owned the team since 2002 and won a World Series in 2003, but the Marlins haven’t made the playoffs since then, the second-longest postseason drought in Major League Baseball behind the Seattle Mariners.
The Marlins are expected to lose more than $60 million this season, according to a source who has seen their books, in part because their revenues are among the lowest in MLB and in part because their $115 million payroll is the largest in franchise history.
The Marlins’ TV contracts pays the lowest of any team in MLB, and Marlins attendance traditionally ranks among the bottom five in MLB.
Loria decided to sell the team for personal reasons and had been seeking a buyer for months.
Marlins president David Samson on Friday declined to comment about where the sales process stood.
Businessobserver.com refers to Sherman as “the shrewd Naples investor who posted spectacular investment returns for years before the financial crisis and a bet on Bear Stearns blemished an otherwise stellar track record. Sherman’s investing style is to select companies he thinks are undervalued.”
Jeter, meanwhile, would give the Marlins cachet and a former player universally respected in baseball.
Jeter, 42, played his entire 20-year career with the Yankees before retiring after the 2014 season and was one of the most celebrated, heavily marketed and distinguished players of his era.
He was a 14-time All-Star, won five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger awards, two Hank Aaron Awards and is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716) and at-bats (11,195).
Jeter became the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career sixth all-time in career hits and the all-time MLB leader in hits by a shortstop.
He consistently ranked among the American League leaders in hits and runs scored for most of his career, and served as the Yankees’ team captain from 2003 until his retirement in 2014.
Jeter won five World Series (1996, 1998 through 2000 and 2009) and holds many postseason records.
Other confirmed investors in the Sherman/Jeter group, besides NBA legend Jordan (who owns the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets), include former Morgan Stanley wealth management chief Greg Fleming, who helped put together the bid for Sherman and Jeter; Doug Kimmelman, a former Goldman Sachs executive who founded Energy Capital Partners and John Troiano, managing Partner and Co-Founder of financial firm TBG Investments, which advises customers on investments.