Major League Baseball is satisfied that the proposed plan to finance the purchase of the Marlins for $1.2 billion meets the league’s criteria — at least on paper.
But more steps remain in the approval process.
“And we’re going to do that as quickly as possible and hopefully get the transaction approved quickly,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday on the final day of the quarterly owners’ meetings.
League owners met on Wednesday with billionaire businessman Bruce Sherman to go over his plans to buy the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. Sherman’s group, which has a written agreement to buy the team, includes former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and more than a dozen other investors.
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“The Sherman group has presented us with documentation of a full and complete equity stack that would allow them to purchase the club,” Manfred said.
Manfred said the financing structure presented by Sherman allows “them to close the transaction consistent with baseball’s rules.”
That would indicate Sherman’s plan contains enough cash equity to meet the league’s debt-ratio requirements. Sherman has reportedly put up $400 million of his own money to complete the deal.
But Manfred said that even though MLB is content with the financing proposal submitted by Sherman, it doesn’t preclude him from seeing other cash investors, as ESPN and others have reported.
“That doesn’t mean that they might prefer to have additional equity in the deal and might be out there looking for it,” Manfred said. “But they have a financial structure that would allow them to close the deal consistent with our rules.”
Marlins president David Samson said Wednesday that he hopes to have a deal completed in late September, with the Sherman-Jeter group taking control of the team when the regular season ends in early October.
“We’re now going to begin our approval process and the interview with Mr. Sherman yesterday was the beginning of that process,” Manfred said. “There are other issues in the approval process that need to be completed.”
Manfred said those include a review of new ownership’s operating plans, compliance with the league’s debt service rule, and “normal background checks that have to be done on all of the equity investors — just our standard process.”
While Manfred said Sherman informed him that Jeter “would run the club on a day-to-day basis,” it was unclear whether the former Yankees star would live in Miami on a permanent basis to operate the club.
“I’m not going to go beyond that in terms of what the conversation would be,” Manfred replied when asked if Jeter would reside full-time in Miami. “I will say this, Derek has been absolutely dogged and committed in this process. He also has been successful at everything he’s tried to do. And I know that he will do whatever’s necessary to be successful in Miami.”
Manfred also said the league remains bullish on Miami as a Major League city despite the poor attendance, regardless of ownership, that has plagued it for years.
“We think Miami is a market in which a Major League Baseball franchise can be successful,” Manfred said. “We’re 100 percent committed to that idea.”
Quick pit stop
It took two planes to get the Marlins to New York on Wednesday.
That’s because the first plane developed a mechanical problem with its landing gear that prompted the pilot to make an unscheduled landing in Atlanta. There, the Marlins boarded another plane for New York, where they open a seven-game road trip on Friday against the Mets.