Jeb Bush might be getting some big-league help from Derek Jeter in his bid to buy the Miami Marlins.
The former Florida governor and retired New York Yankees star are teaming up to try and purchase the Major League Baseball franchise, according to two sources familiar with the talks.
The alliance would pair two rivals in the chase to acquire the Marlins from current owner Jeffrey Loria. Both Bush and Jeter were publicly identified as competing Marlins bidders earlier this month, and Fox Business reported the duo decided to join forces within the last week.
Representatives for the Marlins, Bush and Jeter did not respond to interview requests. The team hasn’t confirmed any would-be suitors, but names have leaked in recent months as Loria began entertaining offers. A new suitor surfaced Wednesday: Wayne Rothbaum, a New York biotech investor who heads Quogue Capital.
Bids for the Marlins were due last week and offers range from $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion, according to Bloomberg.
The emergence of Bush and Jeter as allies in pursuit of the Marlins would combine one of Miami’s most prominent political celebrities (the former presidential candidate lives in Coral Gables) with baseball royalty (Jeter recorded more hits than any Yankee in history).
With Loria preparing to sell his top asset after 15 years owning the team, the buyer derby might come down to who is able to offer the longtime art dealer the richest offer. Even so, Major League owners must approve team sales, giving the league’s front office influence in who Loria picks to take over the Marlins.
Several sources described Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross as possibly interested in buying the Marlins if Loria would drop his price. A Ross bid would harken back to Wayne Huizenga’s role as owner of Miami-Dade County’s professional football and baseball franchises. Fox Business also reported an investment group tied to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is pursuing the Marlins.
A buyer with ties to President Donald Trump — the real estate firm owned by the family of Trump’s son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner — publicly dropped out of the bidding in February amid news that Loria was on track to be named the president’s ambassador to France.
Bush is the only Miami-Dade resident known to be bidding on the Marlins. After his failed campaign for the Republican nomination last year, Bush returned to the investment funds he runs with a son, Jeb Bush Jr. In December, the former governor signed on as a “strategic consultant” for a top lobbying firm, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney.
Jeter’s tie to Florida: He owns a mansion in Tampa.
Backlash against public funding for the $600 million Marlins Park and Loria’s erratic payroll spending left the Marlins remarkably lacking in goodwill for a local sports team. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a top critic of the 2009 financing deal, waited four years to catch his first Marlins game at the county-owned stadium, which opened in 2012. The Marlins draw some of the smallest crowds in baseball, and last year suffered the league’s fourth-worst attendance.
In Bush, the Marlins would gain a leading member of the Miami establishment, and a well-known Republican from a family of presidents at a time of sharp partisan divides. He would also be the second Bush family member to own an MLB franchise: George W. Bush ran the Texas Rangers in the 1990s before entering politics.
A one-time developer, Bush would also be positioned to pursue the long-promised commercial revival of the Little Havana neighborhood surrounding Marlins Park if he and his investors wanted to purchase nearby properties.
If Bush and Jeter bring star power to the Marlins talks, Rothbaum brings a low profile but probably deeper pockets.
He co-founded a pharmaceutical company, Acerta Pharma, that AstraZeneca bought in a deal that could be worth up to $7 billion, depending on drug approvals. In 2008, he and Quogue agreed to pay $1.3 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations Rothbaum improperly conducted “short sales” of stock at a time when investment regulations prohibited the transactions, Bloomberg reported.
Rothbaum did not return a phone message left with his New York office.
Loria purchased the Marlins in 2002 for $158 million, and Forbes values the team close to $1 billion. Loria is the third owner of the team, after John Henry (who now owns the Boston Red Sox) and Huizenga, who secured the expansion team from Major League Baseball in 1991.