Wednesday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at the far-from-finished Marlins’ sale, Eric Thames responding to controversy, and Chris Coghlan flying.
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Buying a Major League Baseball team is a complicated process. First, the current owner of a team has to agree to sell, and they don’t necessarily have to pick the highest bidder, either. Take Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush and their bid for the Marlins, which was reportedly approved by current owner Jeffrey Loria on Tuesday. While Loria is willing to sell to these two very famous people, Jeter and Jeb! would just be minority owners in the club: the reality is that they are short “hundreds of millions” in financing to reach the agreed-upon $1.3 billion sale price, according to the Wall Street Journal.
There are a few potential futures here. One sees Jeter and Bush failing to secure the necessary financing in their bid to become the public face and control person, respectively, for the Marlins, and their bid is rejected by MLB. Another future sees MLB slobbering all over itself to get Famous People into their ownership group and attention paid to the league and the Marlins, and so they sell the team to Jeter and Bush along with a whole lot of debt that they then need to pay off. MLB will allow Team Please Clap for RE2PECT up to $350 million in debt, which means they need to come up with about $1 billion between themselves and investors.
While that might sound ridiculous, when the Padres needed to sell due to a divorce last decade, MLB agent Jeff Moorad stepped in with a whole lot of money he didn’t have, and MLB approved that sale. The move crippled the Padres’ finances, as Moorad had money to pay off his debt for buying the team, but not to invest in the roster itself. It got to the point where fans were overjoyed when the payroll finally climbed back over $50 million: for some context, the Rays had a $63 million payroll the same season.
Last, and maybe — hopefully — the most likely, is that Jeter and Bush are considered legitimate enough faces for the Marlins that investors line up now that a deal has been pre-approved. That would be good for the Marlins, who can get out from under Loria without being put in another awful situation, and good for Baseball, who could avoid swapping out one kind of problem for another in their cadre of owners. We’ll just have to wait and see how desperate MLB is to move on from Loria, though.