Barry Jackson

Marlins deny report they have deal with Mas; Manfred addresses Marlins issues

Marlins President David Samson, Owner Jeffrey Loria, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred on Fri., Feb. 13, 2015 The Marlins officially announce that they will host the 2017 MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park.
Marlins President David Samson, Owner Jeffrey Loria, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred on Fri., Feb. 13, 2015 The Marlins officially announce that they will host the 2017 MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The Marlins on Monday night denied a Forbes report that they’ve reached an agreement to sell the team to Miami businessman Jorge Mas.

“There’s no agreement reached with anyone,” Marlins president David Samson said.

The Mas group indicated they have no agreement to buy the team. Mas remains very interested and has spoken to owner Jeffrey Loria but is still doing due diligence.

“We are continuing to do our work and Jorge remains excited about the prospect of owning the team,” an official involved in Mas’ bid, with authority to speak for him, told The Miami Herald in an on-the-record statement.

The Forbes report, quoting “baseball insiders,” said Mas would buy the team for $1.17 billion.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday that all three groups bidding for the Marlins are “prepared to meet” the asking price and he expects resolution “in the relatively near future.”

Manfred, speaking to The Miami Herald after conducting a town-hall meeting at the Miami Beach Convention Center, said of a sale: “I don’t think it’s days [away] but I think in the relatively near future we’ll have a conclusion to this process… The way the economics of the game work,… you certainly want to have it done by the end of the season.”

Loria continues to consider interest from groups led by Mas; Wayne Rothbaum and Tagg Romney; and Derek Jeter.

Miami Marlins coach Don Mattingly gives his thoughts about Derek Jeter, who is reportedly interested in buying the Marlins, being a MLB franchise owner before the Marlins game Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in Washington.

Manfred said all three groups remain very much alive and Loria eventually will decide a buyer. The Marlins are hoping to get at least $1.2 billion for the team.

Manfred denied a New York Post report that he’s getting impatient with the process.

“When you have something like this that becomes public before it’s resolved, you want it resolved sooner rather than later,” he said. “I’m not impatient with the process or Mr. Loria. It’s his team to sell. We’ve got three good groups out there and I’m sure it will come to a reasonably quick resolution.”

Would Mas be appealing to Manfred because he’s Miami-based, unlike the other potential lead bidders?

“We love local ownership,” Manfred responded. “Any one of these three groups, when they’re finally formed, and if they’re the selected group, will have a local presence that will be a positive from the perspective of the Marlins.”

Manfred also said the Marlins will be permitted to make whatever trades they want without MLB needing to authorize them.

“They don’t need my permission to make player moves,” he said. “Given how public the sales possibility has been and given the fact that I’m talking to [Marlins president David] Samson almost daily, I don’t think there will be any surprises here. But it’s not a permission question.”

During the town hall meeting, Manfred emphasized that Miami “was a great choice as an All-Star venue” and praised the team’s “modern” stadium.

Marlins president David Samson talks about the discussions regarding the potential sale of the franchise before Tuesday's home opener against the Braves.

CHATTER

• The Marlins will listen to offers on anybody, but they’re disinclined to make any in-season trades involving Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto or Marcell Ozuna, according to a team source…. The Yankees inquired about Justin Bour but haven’t made an appealing offer… The Red Sox inquired about Martin Prado and David Phelps, according to The Boston Globe. Both players are considered available, but Prado’s three-year, $40 million might be difficult to move.

• On South Florida as a baseball market, Padres and former Marlins pitcher Brad Hand said he believes the Marlins probably lost some Palm Beach and Broward fans by moving to their Miami stadium location.

“They have to come a long ways to get here,” he said. “I don’t know what it takes to get fans here.”

• Why did All-Stars Hand and Andrew Miller flop here but thrive after leaving?

Both said there was no magic coaching tip, or mechanical change, that happened after they left. For Miller, “a change of scenery was important,” he said. “I went from the guy in the Miguel Cabrera trade [as a Marlin] to a guy on the Pawtucket roster.”

Jason Vargas, a third former Marlins left-hander in Tuesday’s game, praised Loria for “believing in me. I was treated exceptionally well by him.”

• Oakland and former UM first baseman Yonder Alonso said playing in an All-Star Game in his hometown “is surreal” and called it the third most significant event in his life, behind the birth of his child and getting married.

“I want to tattoo these two days into my body,” he said. “It’s incredible. I’m trying to remember every step I take.”

• Alonso said “it’s sad” that Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez isn’t alive to experience this. “His energy is here,” Alonso said. “We were friends. With Cubans, it’s an island and you feel like you’re related.”

• MLB wants to resolve stadium issues in Tampa Bay and Oakland before considering expansion, Manfred said. He mentioned Montreal, Charlotte and Mexico City “or some place in Mexico” as potential options.

• Manfred said he “does not foresee” the designated hitter “moving into the National League,” even though there’s now an interleague game most days.

• Regarding quickening the pace of play, Manfred said changes need to extend beyond a pitch clock and limiting time of visits to the mound. “We are serious enough that we are experimenting with shorter commercial breaks,” he said.

What about just expanding the strike zone? “The strike zone we’ve talked about moving up or down,” Manfred said. “It’s unpredictable what would happen and unpredictable is not the first place you want to go.”

• Manfred said a balanced schedule – in which every team plays every team in its league the same number of times – has “intellectual appeal” but isn’t realistic because it would increase travel and de-emphasize the importance of divisional play.

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