Confirming Friday’s report in the Miami Herald, Marlins president David Samson said Saturday that the Marlins have a signed agreement to sell the team to billionaire businessman Bruce Sherman and former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter for $1.2 billion and the deal is projected to close in the first few days of October.
Meanwhile, Samson said that he has been assured by the Sherman/Jeter group that they will not be adding Miami businessman Jorge Mas to their group.
Bloomberg reported on Saturday morning that Mas was speaking with Sherman and Jeter about joining the group, potentially as majority owner. A source close to Mas said that Mas was interested in joining their group and had discussed it with them.
But Samson said Saturday there is no chance of Mas coming aboard.
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“Jorge Mas is a personal friend, someone I’ve known for 15 years who I’m close to — he is not part of the group [and] he will not be part of the group,” Samson said. “There are no discussions for him to be part of the group. He was a competing group. He did not prevail.
“That doesn’t change the fact he’s an important part of this community, an important member of our fan base, a season-ticket holder and just an important man in this community. But he is not part of this group. Jorge Mas is not part of the group that Major League Baseball will be voting on in the coming weeks.”
Mas, who declined to comment on Saturday, was caught off guard by Friday’s Herald report that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria had struck a deal to sell the team to Sherman and Jeter. Mas met with Marlins and MLB officials this past week and believed his attempt to buy the team was gaining momentum.
Samson confirmed the Herald report that Jeter will run the Marlins’ baseball and business operations departments and that Sherman will be the “control person,” the equivalent of a managing general partner.
Jeter “will have great people working for him,” Samson said. “As far as how it will work on a day to day basis, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Samson, who has one year left on his contract, said he has no clarity on whether he will be retained by the new ownership group, “which I’m fine with. It has never been about me.”
Samson added: “I would love to stay here. I serve at the pleasure of the owner. If Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter would like me to serve, it’s something I would certainly talk about. I have remained completely neutral because I was the one running the deal. I have been in touch with Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman constantly and I have never discussed my status.”
Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, is expected to remain with the organization, according to a source and reports by USA Today. Hill has three years left on his contract.
The sale must be approved by three-quarters of MLB owners. Though the sale will be discussed during owners meetings in Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday, an ownership vote is not expected for a few weeks.
Samson said Loria will continue to run the team, with business as usual, before the sale closes.
Samson said the bid from the Sherman/Jeter group, which has about 16 investors, was selected over competing bids from Mas and Wayne Rothbaum because “we thought it was in the best interests of the franchise to go forward at this time with this group. It took a while to get to an agreement. It’s a complicated deal.”
Samson added: “Bruce Sherman truly is a man that has a passion for baseball and a love of baseball. Derek Jeter is an incredibly capable individual. Forget what he did on the field; that’s not relevant anymore. He’s incredibly capable off the field. I’ve gotten to know him through this process, and he is an incredibly interesting, articulate, smart, contemplative individual. Forget Hall of Famer. It’s not about that. It’s about his ability to run a team and his desire to run a team. It came through so clearly what he wanted and we were able to finish a deal. Thinking about what it would mean for our community and our fans, it just made the most sense.”
Samson did not discuss the new owners’ short- or long-term plans but said “what it means for our fans is there will be continued effort to try to win games.”
Samson said that Loria would not comment about his future plans until the deal closes but that Loria would not be involved with the Marlins in any way after that.
“Time will show that [through] thick and thin that his commitment to Miami never wavered,” Samson said of Loria. “It was hard to say that for previous owners. … This is the highest payroll in the history of the Marlins that Jeffrey approved this year [$115 million]. The results on the field are not exactly what we wanted, but these guys go out and compete every night. You have a leader in [Marlins manager] Don Mattingly who we think is an incredibly competent leader. At the end of the day, this is a results game and we haven’t given the fans what I think they deserve, which is winning seasons and playoff appearances. But … we did give them a ring in 2003. But what have you done for us lately?”
Samson also ripped into a Forbes report Saturday saying that Mas ultimately would be the owner.
“Forbes has never gotten one thing right through this whole process, through the valuation of teams through every column they write, there has not been one shred of truth in what Forbes has ever written, ever,” Samson said. “What they wrote today, forget irresponsible. There was not one true line in that report.”
Forbes had valued the Marlins franchise at $940 million, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said last month that Loria “is holding out for dollars right now that are unrealistic.” Samson said the team sold for $1.2 billion.
“Steve Ross and Forbes both were obviously wrong about their valuations,” Samson said.