By Steve Silverman
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There are no guarantees that Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush will have the winning bid when it comes to buying the Miami Marlins.
The high-profile partnership’s offer is reportedly one of two being considering for the troubled franchise. If Jeter and Bush are successful, the price will be somewhere around $1.34 billion.
Hold on a second while I look in the back seat of the car for a couple of extra dollar bills.
That’s a lot of money, even for the Yankees legend and former Florida governor, and quite a bit of that would have to be in cash because of the debt that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has accumulated and placed on his team over the years.
That debt has to be paid when the franchise changes hands, according to Major League Baseball’s rules. That could be an issue for the Jeter-Bush group, but it could also be an issue for other prospective ownership groups.
The idea of swapping Loria for Jeter and Bush would be a remarkable win for the sport, and the potential of the new ownership could raise the profile of the franchise quite a bit.
Loria accelerated the demise of the Montreal Expos when he owned the team, and he was given the opportunity to buy the Marlins after the Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals.
He bought the Marlins at a bargain-basement price and will leave with a king’s ransom when any sale – to Jeter-Bush or any other ownership group – gets finalized.
But let’s say that Jeter and Bush are ultimately successful, and the sale gets completed in a relatively short period of time. The two men will be able to make a big splash at the All-Star Game that will be held in Miami this July, and then they will be off and running.
That’s a great jumping-off point, and then Jeter will handle the baseball operations responsibilities of the franchise.
The idea of Jeter getting back into the game is an idea that should bring a smile to any baseball fan. He is perhaps the best representative of the over the past 25 years, and he has the potential to be an outstanding frontman for the sport.
And nothing would be better than to see him learn the trade while running the Marlins. While his presence in South Florida will ensure that every move he makes gets plenty of scrutiny, Jeter is clearly fine with that.
He played his entire career as the most visible Yankee, and he received nearly as much coverage for his off-the-field activities as he did for his achievements on the field. He never flinched when facing all that pressure, and having a chance to learn his trade in one of baseball’s lesser markets will probably seem like a vacation.
That’s good, because the job itself is hard enough. Theo Epstein may make it look easy because he has been the architect of championship teams with the Red Sox and Cubs, but it is anything but. Brian Cashman has been the general manager of the Yankees since 1998, and while he’s relatively young at 49, that’s a long time to be in the middle of the fish bowl.
At some point, a successor will need to take over.
Shouldn’t that successor be Jeter?
If he gets to run the Marlins for a couple of years and he learns the ins and outs of running an organization, what could be better training for running the greatest franchise in Major League Baseball?
Scouting high school and college players, overseeing the minor league operations, making player personnel decisions at the major league level and handling all hirings and firings. It’s a very difficult and challenging job for anyone, including Jeter.
He will have plenty of advantages over his peers because of his success on and off the field, but it’s not enough. He needs experience to succeed, and he can get that experience with the Marlins.
But as co-owner of the team, it certainly would be difficult to leave and move on to the Yankees. But that’s exactly what should happen to make this situation work out.
Hopefully, there will be some way to extricate himself from that prospective position to come back home at some point.
Of course, the first step has to be completed, and the Jeter-Bush bid must be accepted by Major League Baseball. Once that happens, the clock starts ticking, and Jeter’s learning curve begins in earnest.
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