With reports swirling this week that at least three separate groups may be bidding for the Marlins – one potential ownership group reportedly includes former Yankee captain Derek Jeter – Miami manager Don Mattingly walked the company line at Citi Field Friday when asked about Jeter possibly being his potential "Boss."
That is, until it was suggested that Mattingly’s job might be safer if Jeter held the ownership reins.
"I don’t know about any of that," Mattingly, the former Yankee player, said with a laugh. "Anything Derek wants to do, he’s gonna be good at."
A Fox Business report Wednesday said that Jeter is part of a group that includes Wall Street veteran Gregory Fleming and the group has "expressed interest in bidding for" the Marlins. Another group includes former Florida governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, whose brother, former President George W. Bush, once owned the Texas Rangers. Sources have confirmed to the Daily News that current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is looking to sell the team he bought in 2002 for $158 million.
"I can’t comment. I have to be true to the process," Marlins president David Samson told The News Friday in the visiting clubhouse before the Marlins played the Mets in the series opener. "I think that what I said earlier, when spring started, is still true – there is potential for an offer to be accepted by Jeffrey (Loria), but I can’t talk about the process."
In a February Forbes report, Samson was said to have a "handshake agreement" in place to sell the team to a prominent real estate developer. Samson said Friday that "there was a framework of a deal with Josh Kushner," the brother of President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is a senior adviser in Trump’s cabinet. Forbes estimated in the report that the Marlins would be sold for $1.6 billion.
"That (framework of a deal) ended. After it ended, we became engaged with other groups that were interested," said Samson.
For now, it is a wait-and-see scenario whether Jeter, the 42-year-old former Bombers shortstop, will make a successful bid for the Marlins, but at least one of his former Yankee teammates thinks Jeter should be a 21st-century Boss, as the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who was close with Jeter, was called when he ruled the team for over three decades.
"We don’t even know if this team’s going to be sold or what the situation is. I have no idea," Marlins ageless outfielder Ichiro Suzuki said through a translator Friday. "Putting the Marlins aside, somebody that had a goal and a dream to become a professional baseball player, and did, and had a career, and now you have another goal or dream and you’re trying to achieve something, I think that’s great.
"Jeter definitely deserves to have a team – he’s worthy of that," added Ichiro, who played with Jeter for two and a half seasons.
Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins franchise face after signing a massive, 13-year, $325 million contract at the end of 2014, said that he doesn’t comment on all the reports of the team possibly being sold, and he added that any such buzz is not a distraction given that the tragic death of his teammate Jose Fernandez last year still looms large.
"We’ve got way more distractions than that," Stanton said. But Stanton said he did get to know Jeter when the Yankees and Marlins played an exhibition series in Panama in 2014, and Stanton is well aware of Jeter’s success as a player. The transition to the front office, Stanton said, would be a logical progression.
"(Jeter’s) knowledgeable. He knows how to win obviously," said Stanton. "You keep winners around, just like they’re doing with Magic Johnson over there (as the Los Angeles Lakers’ new president)."