The two groups trying to purchase the Marlins are neck-and-neck in their pursuit, according to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred.
Whether either entity has met the financial requirements to buy the club from Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is the question, as reports continue to swirl that both the Jeb Bush and Tagg Romney groups are still looking for investors to help meet the $1.3 billion price.
“There are two bidders, at least, for the franchise,” Manfred said on Thursday at the conclusion of the quarterly MLB owners’ meetings in New York. “The bidders are in relatively the same place in terms of price — maybe minuscule differences. And they are in fact in the price range that Mr. Loria was looking for.”
Manfred said the final negotiations at this point are between the bidding groups and the Marlins.
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“Two things need to happen,” Manfred said. “There needs to be a solidified financial structure presented to us so that we’re sure that we actually have a transaction that can move ahead, and there are certain documents, the most important of which are [the] purchase of sale agreement, that need to be negotiated between the buyer and the seller. And we’ll be ready to process the transaction when those two things are completed.”
Ultimately, any purchase agreement would need the approval of league owners, who don’t meet again until August.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that both the Bush and Romney groups have found it challenging to find investors willing to kick in huge sums of money to become minority partners.
Bloomberg News reported on Thursday that one big investor, Quogue Capital founder Wayne Rothbaum, had been in talks to contribute $150 million to the Bush group but eventually backed out.
Bush is not limiting his fundraising efforts to deep-pocketed investors. A Major League Baseball source told the Miami Herald that the Bush group has cast a net in search of investors willing to contribute as little as $10 million, or less than 1 percent of the bidding price.
THIS AND THAT
▪ There isn’t a player on the Marlins who isn’t frustrated with how the season has gone. But none more than slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who has been with the Marlins since 2010 and has yet to play on a winner.
Stanton’s frustration level?
“It’s probably the highest ever,” Stanton said Thursday at Dodger Stadium before the Marlins opened a six-game, West Coast trip. “It’s higher than me being the worst player on the field for a month, the worst player in the big leagues for a month, last year.”
The Marlins began the trip with the second-worst record in the majors and having lost 17 of their previous 21 games.
“We’ve had some bad luck with injuries, and we haven’t been playing well,” Stanton said. “Just a funk. But we’ve got to get out of it or the season is going to be twice as long as the last few years.”
Stanton said he never imagined the season would start out this poorly.
“Surprised? Yes,” Stanton said. “No one expected it to be like this.”
▪ The Marlins voided their minor-league option assignment on Tom Koehler and instead placed the right-hander on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder bursitis.
Koehler had been optioned to Triple A New Orleans on Tuesday.
“Then, after the option, he said there was some discomfort, so we sent him to see a doctor,” said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. “They did a MRI that showed the bursitis, which is inflammation.”
By instead going on the DL, Koehler will continue to earn Major League service time. He needs to accrue 156 days of service time this season to reach five years of MLB service and remain on track for free agency after the 2018 season.
▪ Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen was receiving a second opinion on his injured left arm from noted Los Angeles surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Chen is on the 10-day disabled list with left arm fatigue. Hill said Marlins team doctor Lee Kaplan was scheduled to confer this weekend with ElAttrache, who performed Tommy John surgery on Jose Fernandez in 2014.
▪ Manager Don Mattingly left open the possibility of having David Phelps make Sunday’s start against the Dodgers. But he ruled out left-hander Jeff Locke, who remains on a minor-league rehab assignment as he continues to work his way back from the disabled list.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (0-0, 1.50 ERA) at Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Alex Wood (4-0, 2.27), 10:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (1-3, 3.56) at Dodgers LHP Julio Urias (0-1, 3.43), 10:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.