Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that a group led by Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter had won the bidding to buy the Miami Marlins. But a whole host of conflicting reports indicate that may not be time to say “yeah Jeets” (or, gross, “yeah Jeb”) just yet.
The report was pretty unambiguous, saying the Jeb ‘n’ Jeets group had “won the auction” with a $1.3 billion bid. But later on Tuesday MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated the auction is not done, and that multiple bids are still in play.
“There are multiple groups interested in acquiring the Marlins,” Manfred said in Pittsburgh while attending the Pirates-Cubs game. “One of those groups is the Bush-Jeter group. When we have a resolution as to which bid is going to be accepted, we will announce that.”
Also Tuesday, after the Bloomberg report went out, a Forbes report directly contradicted it, saying that no formal bids have been submitted by anyone. Instead, according to Forbes, the Jeb-Jeets-led group has made a “non-binding indication of interest,” which is, functionally, a promise to make a formal offer of a certain amount, but which can be walked away from at any time.
Reading the tea leaves, this feels like the most likely scenario: There is only one group with the serious intention of paying $1.3 billion for the Marlins, so no bidding has taken place, and may not need to, except to satisfy MLB formalities. Instead, the group is probably negotiating the particulars of its offer with current owner Jeffrey Loria, a process that could take some time. (This is how the Miami Herald reports that things currently stand.)
Everyone would likely prefer to close this deal as soon as possible, but there appears to be a big hold-up: Jeb and Jeets don’t have the money.
Forbes reported that between the two of them, Jeb and Jeets have about $200M in equity. (This is also an indicator that Jeter would be more face of the franchise than actual controlling owner. Certainly more than Jay-Z’s one-fifteenth of one percent of the Nets, and probably more than Magic Johnson’s 2.3 percent of the Dodgers.)
$200 million on hand is well short of the reported purchase price, especially with new MLB debt-service rules that put a cap on how much of the team’s value can be carried as debt—somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 million, according to reports. That’s a lot of money that has to be found elsewhere, and according to the Wall Street Journal, as recently as Monday the group was still frantically making calls and trying to line up financing.
I would assume they’re relatively close—there’s a whole lot of smoke for there not to be fire—but we’ve seen sports franchise sales fall apart before at even later stages than this. Maybe Jeter should start a GoFundMe.