Fish Bytes

Jeffrey Loria has ‘handshake agreement’ with potential Marlins buyer, according to a report

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria stands on the field after the Marlins defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-2 during a baseball game, Wed., Sept. 11, 2013, in Miami.
Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria stands on the field after the Marlins defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-2 during a baseball game, Wed., Sept. 11, 2013, in Miami. AP

The Marlins have had three owners in their 25 years. They could soon have a fourth.

According to a Forbes report, a “handshake agreement” is in place for owner Jeffrey Loria to sell the team to an unknown buyer for $1.6 billion. Who that is remains a mystery. But it’s definitely not Charles Kushner, father-in-law of Ivanka Trump.

Kushner’s name surfaced as the team’s possible buyer in an ESPN report. But sources told the Miami Herald that Kushner is not involved, and Major League Baseball took the unusual step of quashing it in a statement.

“Under Major League Baseball rules, the Commissioner’s Office must be informed of any conversation about a potential sale,” the league said in the statement. “The Commissioner’s Office has not heard directly or indirectly of any conversation involving Charles Kushner.”

While Kushner might not be involved, others could.

Forbes, citing two unnamed sources, said the agreement was with a New York City real estate developer.

While the possible sale of the franchise is in the preliminary stages, one source told the Herald that it’s all but certain that Jeffrey Loria will end up getting rid of the team he has owned since 2002.

“He’s going to sell it, no doubt about it,” said one Marlins official, who spoke only under the condition he not be identified.

Sources said Loria has told associates that, before selling the franchise, he would prefer to maintain ownership of the team through the All-Star Game, which will be held in July at Marlins Park.

After Forbes first reported Thursday that Marlins president David Samson has told others that a “handshake agreement” is in place to sell the team for $1.6 billion, ESPN reported that one potential buyer is Kushner, father-in-law of President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.

Kushner’s son, Jared, is the Senior Advisor to the President.

Loria donated $125,000 to Trump’s presidential campaign last year.

When contacted Thursday about the Forbes report, Samson said he had “no comment at all.”

Should Loria sell the Marlins, he would realize a significant windfall from his original purchase price of $158 million, most of which came through his sale of the Montreal Expos to MLB for $120 million.

Outside of the World Series title the Marlins won in 2003, the team has mostly struggled on and off the field under Loria’s stewardship. The team has continued to rank near the bottom of all MLB teams in attendance despite the forecast for larger crowds once it moved into its new ballpark in 2012.

The Marlins haven’t finished with a winning record since 2009 and have the second-longest playoff drought in the majors, ahead of only Seattle. Loria has long been the bane of fans, unhappy with the team’s repeated roster sell-offs in which it has traded such stars as Miguel Cabrera, Josh Beckett and Jose Reyes.

Perhaps signaling his intention to sell at some point soon, the Marlins have taken a win-now approach, trading many of their minor-league prospects in order to acquire big-league help. Those deals have rendered the Marlins as one of the most talent-thin farm systems in baseball.

And when the Marlins signed Giancarlo Stanton to a $325 million contract, they backloaded the 13-year deal so that most of the money would be paid toward the end.

Stanton made about $30 million the first three years of the deal, including $14.5 million this coming season. But he will start making at least $25 annually in 2018.

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