Let’s not get too excited yet. Yes, there are plenty of news stories out there of an “agreement” between Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and real estate tycoon Charles Kushner of a potential sale of the team at some point, possibly in the near future.
While media outlets have reported this is a “handshake agreement” and a deal already made, Major League Baseball might have something to say about it. The sale of the Marlins has been a topic of conversation off and on over the past year and I assume (a dangerous word, I know) longer than that. But for now, Loria, a man who is not well received in south Florida, is still the one signing paychecks until further notice.
The last time an MLB team was solid was in 2012 when, ironically, Jared Kushner and a group of investors attempted to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. Loria bought the Marlins from John Henry in 2002 for $158 million, funding the purchase by selling the Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball for $120 million and covering the rest with a $38 million loan from MLB.
That Jared Kushner, the man who is part of President Donald Trump’s inner circle, the man who married his daughter Ivanka and is a major mover and shaker in the political arena as of now. His father, Charles, is the one trying to make the Marlins his own personal ball club. I’m not trying to make this a political commentary, but you have to figure if this deal gets done and is approved by Major League Baseball, there will be plenty to talk about concerning politics and baseball.
But remember, nothing has happened yet.
The story on ESPN.com from Thursday night states, "Under Major League Baseball rules, the Commissioner's Office must be informed of any conversations about a potential sale," Major League Baseball said in a statement provided to ESPN. "The Commissioner's Office has not heard directly or indirectly of any conversation involving Charles Kushner."
A spokesperson for Charles Kushner declined comment. Marlins president David Samson also declined comment.
Earlier Thursday, Forbes and The Associated Press reported that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria had a preliminary agreement to sell the team for about $1.6 billion to a New York businessman, but the deal could fall through because the final purchase price hasn't been determined, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations said Thursday.
It is not known whether Kushner is part of that group, or possibly another group that is interested in buying the team, as the source told the AP that negotiations with other parties might eventually be reopened.
When Loria bought the Marlins, it was part of a multi-team deal where many owners changed hands. It has been reported by Forbes that the sale of the Marlins would be for around $1.6 billion, about $600 million in cash would be needed. It is not known if Kushner would be able to secure that kind of investment or whether he will look to purchase another franchise if this deal does not meet approval of Major League Baseball.
Owning MLB teams is nothing new to Loria as the Marlins were not his first foray into owning major league sports franchises. On December 9, 1999, he bought a 24 percent stake in the Montreal Expos for $18 million Canadian dollars (approximately $12 million) and became the managing general partner. He'd initially considered buying the team in 1991 from founding owner Charles Bronfman, but Bronfman balked at Loria's demand for controlling interest. The team was sold to then-team president Claude Brochu instead. Loria headed an ownership group that included the city of Montreal, several Montreal businesses, and Stephen Bronfman, Charles' son. When a series of cash calls over the next two years went unanswered, Loria ended up with 94 percent of the team at a valuation of $50M.
In 2002, as part of a plan by then baseball commissioner Bud Selig and then-Marlins owner John W. Henry, Loria sold the Expos to "Expos Baseball, LP", a partnership of the other 29 major league clubs, for $120 million. In effect, the Expos were sold to the commissioner's office. Henry then sold the Marlins to Loria for $158.5 million, including a $38.5 million no-interest loan from MLB. The deal was approved by the other owners before Loria and Henry even signed a contract, and paved the way for Henry to buy the Boston Red Sox. It was reported that Loria moved the Expos' entire front office staff, on-field staff, office equipment and computer equipment to Florida.