Barry Jackson

Optimism rising as Mas/Marlins discussions accelerate

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria (center) and his wife July, chat with Cuban-American billionaire Jorge Mas, one of the bidders to buy the Miami Marlins during the MLB All-Star game between the National League and the American League on Tues., July 11, 2017, at Marlins Park in Miami.
Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria (center) and his wife July, chat with Cuban-American billionaire Jorge Mas, one of the bidders to buy the Miami Marlins during the MLB All-Star game between the National League and the American League on Tues., July 11, 2017, at Marlins Park in Miami. pportal@miamiherald.com

The optics at Tuesday’s All-Star Game were powerful: Miami businessman Jorge Mas, who’s trying to buy the Marlins, sitting in the owner’s box, chatting with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and embracing Marlins president David Samson.

Mas believes he is getting close to a deal to buy the Marlins and is optimistic, but cannot yet be completely certain, it will happen, according to someone directly involved.

That optimism is rooted partly in a belief that the other competing groups (Derek Jeter and Wayne Rothbaum/Tagg Romney) don’t have the financial wherewithal (in Jeter’s case) or the desire (in Rothbaum’s case) to meet Loria’s asking price.

In fact, members of those competing groups have reached out to Mas about joining his group, according to a source.

“We’re close; we’re close,” Mas - whose Marlins interest we first reported on June 23 - told WINZ-940 radio host Andy Slater on Tuesday night.

Nevertheless, the Marlins have not told Mas that he’s getting the team or given him a firm indication that he’s the front-runner, according to a source briefed on the situation.

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

Both the Marlins and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said this week that none of the team’s suitors have been informed of a decision.

But Mas’ pursuit of the team is accelerating. Purchase agreements have been drawn up with Mas - they were previously drawn up with the Jeter and Rothbaum/Romney groups - and discussions continue.

An involved source said Mas values the team at about $1.1 billion, which is less than Loria’s $1.2 billion asking price. Mas might be willing to offer a bit more than the $1.1 billion.

But a source with direct knowledge disputed published reports that Mas has made a firm $1.17 billion offer.

But Mas believes the two sides are close enough in their value of the team that a deal can be reached soon, according to an involved source.

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.

While not picking favorites among the three bidders, Manfred spoke Tuesday about the appeal of Mas as a buyer.

“The Mas family has been a prominent, pre-eminent family in Miami for a long time,” Manfred said. “One thing we like to see [in an ownership group] is deep roots in the community. They certainly would satisfy that.”

Among the three ownership groups bidding to buy the Marlins, Mas is the only Miami-based lead investor. He heads his family’s construction and infrastructure company with headquarters in Coral Gables, MasTec.

Mas’ net worth has been estimated to be between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, according to Fox Business.

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