Barry Jackson

Rothbaum, Bush meet with MLB Commish in pursuit of Marlins

Billy the Marlin and Jeb Bush
Billy the Marlin and Jeb Bush

Wayne Rothbaum and Jeb Bush, who are leading up a group trying to buy the Miami Marlins, met with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in New York last week and continue to work toward acquiring the team, a New York-based MLB source said this week.

The meeting, curiously, did not include any representatives from the Marlins, according to the source.

Their group has lost at least one prominent member in recent days: Tagg Romney, who was the original point person in that group before Rothbaum joined forces with Romney, with Rothbaum as the group’s lead investor.

A source confirmed that Romney has left the group, as reported over the weekend by Fanragsports’ Jon Heyman. But the source said the situation is fluid and that it’s not out of the question that Romney would return.

Though a source inside the Rothbaum group expressed confidence about reaching a deal, they also know that they continue to face stiff competition from former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter, who – despite his difficulties meeting the asking price – is perceived to be Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s preferred choice to buy the team, according to a member of the Rothbaum group.

Meanwhile, Miami businessman Jorge Mas is still doing due diligence about a potential bid for the team and has not dropped out of the running.

Mas said through a representative last week that he was considering all his options about whether to continue his pursuit of the team. The Marlins do not expect a deal with Mas will materialize, according to a source in contact with the team.

Though Mas cannot be ruled out, one obstacle is that he has been reluctant to make a firm offer – or fully put together his investment group – without the Marlins granting him an exclusive negotiating window. The Marlins have refused to grant that request. Mas also values the team at below the $1.2 billion that the Marlins are seeking.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred reiterated last week that three groups remain alive in the competition to buy the team and that he expects the team to be sold.

Though Bush has a limited financial investment in the Rothbaum group, he would stand to potentially be chairman of the board if the Rothbaum group buys the team, according to a source close to the group. Bush was included in the meeting with Rothbaum and Manfred because, as one source said, “he opens a lot of doors that other people cannot” because of his connections.

The source said Bush, who previously teamed with Jeter on a Marlins bid before the two split up, has brought some of his investors to Rothbaum’s group.

Though Bush would have an active role if Rothbaum buys the team, Rothbaum would be the “control person” – the baseball term for a role akin to managing general manager – because he would have the most money invested.

Shoney’s CEO chairman David Davoudpour also has a substantial investment in the Rothbaum bid.

Romney, who has homes in New York and Delray Beach, made a fortune selling a pharmaceutical company with U.S. headquarters in California. He’s the president and managing member of Quogue Capital, LLC, a life sciences investment fund founded in 2002.

Former MLB pitchers Dave Stewart and Al Leiter, who were brought into the Rothbaum/Bush/Romney group by Romney, are no longer involved because Romney has exited the group, according to FanRagsports. Leiter, via text, declined to confirm that.

But neither pitcher had much or any money invested in the deal. Unclear is the role of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine, who was also brought into the group by Romney, primarily to recruit potential investors.

Here’s my post from Tuesday with a ton of UM notes, including how former stars are helping current players. And here’s my post with Heat news, including where Miami stands with Kyrie Irving.

And here’s my story on exactly what the Dolphins are getting with their new cornerback, signed today, and more notes.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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