And that could prove to be a challenge.
A group led by the Yankees legend and the former Florida governor has reportedly submitted the highest bid — $1.3 billion — to buy the franchise. But completion of any sale by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could take months and would require approval by at least 75 percent of the major league teams. More than half of the winning bid could involve cash because of MLB’s debt service rule, meaning the Bush-Jeter group would need to raise a lot of money.
Citing unnamed sources, Jon Heyman of WFAN and FanRag Sports reported the Jeter-Bush group has in recent days approached prospective buyers from other groups about joining forces with them. However, it does not appear that tactic has worked, at least not yet.
One South Florida “bigwig” told Heyman that the Jeter-Bush group is “dialing for dollars” and that they might be hitting up big-money donors to Bush’s failed presidential campaign.
Jeter and Bush are believed to have the ability to pony up $100 million toward the purchase, but they would still need to come up with nearly $700 million more to satisfy MLB’s rules that only allow 40 percent financing.
“You can rest assured that the acquiring group, whoever it turns out to be, will have a financial structure — meaning some debt and the rest equity — that is consistent with the rules that we have, most notably the debt service rule,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday. “And more important than complying with the rules, (that) puts the franchise in a position that it can operate effectively. That’s really the commissioner’s office’s job in terms of approving any potential bidding group, and we are really focused on that issue with respect to the Marlins.”
Other bidders were Quogue Capital founder Wayne Rothbaum and Solamere Capital co-founder Tagg Romney, the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Romney’s group also includes Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine.
According to Heyman, the Romney-Glavine group’s bid was the second highest. Some observers believe the other two offers were more solid financially than the Jeter-Bush bid, Heyman reported.
Manfred said Thursday that two groups are still in the running.
“There is no agreement in place,” he said. “We’re working with more than one group, and when we have a definitive agreement, we’ll make an announcement.”
Bush’s group includes his 33-year-old son, Jeb Jr., who has worked in politics and real estate. The Bushes and Jeter initially had competing interests in efforts to buy the team before teaming up.
Jeter, a 14-time All-Star who retired in 2014 after 20 seasons with the Yankees, has long talked about owning a franchise. Jeter, 42, lives in Tampa and is expected to take an active role in operations of the team.
Jeb Bush, 64, served two terms as governor from 1999-2007. He was an unsuccessful candidate last year for the Republican nomination for president, and since the November election he has been working for a Florida law firm. His brother, former President George W. Bush, was controlling owner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 until he became governor of Texas in 1995.
Sale of the Marlins would be widely applauded in South Florida, where Loria has become unpopular because of his tight budgets, payroll purges and a financing agreement for 5-year-old Marlins Park widely viewed as unfair to taxpayers.
It has been eight years since the Marlins had a winning season, and despite a new ballpark, they’ve finished last in the National League in attendance 11 of the past 12 years.
Loria, 76, bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry, part of the Boston Red Sox ownership group that has celebrated three World Series titles. The Marlins won the World Series in 2003 but haven’t been to the postseason since, the longest current drought in the NL.
Earlier this month, Forbes valued the Marlins at $940 million, which ranks 25th of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)