Marlins’ new owners talk about the future of the franchise
Some highlights from Derek Jeter’s and Bruce Sherman’s first press conference as Marlins owners on Tuesday morning at Marlins Park:
• They did not confirm the anticipated payroll slashing but implied payroll reduction was likely. The Marlins lost more than $50 million with a $115 million payroll this season.
Sherman: “We are going to try to operate the team financially responsibly and successfully on the field.”
Jeter said he doesn’t like to use the words ‘tear down.’ But he acknowledged: “Moving forward there will be at times unpopular decisions” that will be made for the “betterment” of the franchise.
Asked about his plans with the team, he said: “Some things you keep private. We will sit down with me and [president/baseball operations] Mike Hill and his staff [and decide a plan]. We do have to rebuild the organization. It starts with player development and scouting. We will build it from top down and bottom up.”
• Asked about Giancarlo Stanton’s future, Jeter was vague, saying: “Unbelievable season. I don’t know him well. I haven’t spoken to the players. I haven’t spoken to him. Anything we’re going to do moving forward with the organization, I will discuss with Mike Hill.”
• Jeter declined to say if Ichiro Suzuki’s $2 million player option will be exercised. “He’s always been one of my favorite players.” He declined to say if there will be changes to uniforms or other aesthetic things.
• Jeter said he will be very hands on: “You have to be present and involved. I don’t think people would respect me if I wasn’t here.”
• Jeter: “We believe in this market. We believe in the fan base. We are focused on bringing the fans back. We want to build an organization that is sutainable over time. We will build this organization based on integrity, honor, hard work.... We want to hear from the fans. The fans are our No. 1 priority.”
Jeter thanked owners for giving the sale “unanimous approval” and commissioner Rob Manfred, as well as his wife and family and the team’s minority owners.
He said his family knows “it’s very time consuming; it’s going to be a lot of work.”
Jeter thanked “his shrink and everyone throughout this process.”
• Jeter said: “You take care of your players and take care of your fans. That’s the one thing I learned the most. You have to take care of those people because you need them to be successful.”
• Jeter said he hasn’t spoken about ways to honor Jose Fernandez. Jeffrey Loria had wanted to build him a statue.
• Jeter: “I always wanted to be a baseball owner. I want to be in position where I could be involved in an ownership group. I lived down in Tampa and have been over at that minor league complex year in and year out learning as much as I possibly could. I am not coming in here thinking I know everything about team ownership. One thing I’m good at is knowing what I don’t know. There are wonderful people working in this organization now and there are some quality people we will add.”
• Why Miami knowing the challenges? “Why this market? I live in Florida,” Jeter said. “Miami is very close. Bruce lives in Florida as well. Teams don’t trade very often. Only so many opportunities you have to own a franchise. I’ve been looking at Miami for years. I had a conversation with Jeffrey years ago and he said this may be an organization that comes up for sale. We believe in this market. We believe it has a huge upside. It starts with community engagement.”
• He stopped short of saying Don Mattingly will return as manager, which is widely expected, but praised him. “I spoke to Donny and said get back to his family. We will evaluate everyone. I played with Donny for a couple weeks. I developed a relationship over the years. I think he’s done a great job.”
• Jeter said he’s seen one game in person “and attendance was good.”
• Sherman called this “one of my most exciting days” of his life. He said he has “always been a huge baseball fan. To be teaming up with Derek Jeter is extraordinary. To have Jeter as icon as CEO of the Marlins is a great experience we’re all looking forward to. It’s exciting to be here. We have to engage the community locally. We all love Florida. We all love this community. Derek has won his whole life, as you know.”
Sherman spoke of “10, 12, 14” investors but said the exact number “is not totally relevant.”