Mar­lins have ‘hand­shake agree­ment’ to sell team, sources say

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - CLARK SPENCER Mi­ami Her­ald

The Mi­ami Mar­lins have a “hand­shake agree­ment” to sell the team for $1.6 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Forbes.

The pub­li­ca­tion, cit­ing two un­named sources, said Mar­lins pres­i­dent David Sam­son has said the team has an agree­ment to sell the fran­chise.

When reached by the Her­ald, Sam­son said he had “no com­ment at all.”

There has been in­creased spec­u­la­tion within base­ball cir­cles that owner Jef­frey Lo­ria in­tends to sell the team af­ter host­ing the All-Star Game at Mar­lins Park this sum­mer. The Mar­lins haven’t en­joyed a win­ning sea­son since 2009, and last reached the play­offs in 2003 when they won the World Se­ries. Their play­off drought is the sec­ond­longest in Ma­jor League Base­ball.

“He’s go­ing to sell it, no doubt about it,” said one team of­fi­cial, who spoke only un­der the con­di­tion he not be iden­ti­fied.

Lo­ria paid $158 mil­lion when he bought the team in 2002.

Ac­cord­ing to Forbes, the $1.6 bil­lion hand­shake agree­ment is with a real es­tate de­vel­oper based in New York. But the ar­ti­cle went on to say that “the po­ten­tial buyer is not liq­uid, mean­ing he does not have the cash to buy the Mar­lins be­cause his net worth is tied up in real es­tate. Thus, for the real es­tate de­vel­oper to pur­chase the Mar­lins would likely re­quire more debt than MLB would be com­fort­able with.” If it is a New York real es­tate de­vel­oper, a source says it won’t be Dol­phins owner Stephen Ross.

Ac­cord­ing to an As­so­ci­ated Press re­port, “the deal could fall through be­cause the fi­nal pur­chase price hasn’t been deter­mined.” The re­port added that the fi­nal of­fer could be much lower and ne­go­ti­a­tions could be opened again.

Fur­ther fu­elling spec­u­la­tion that Lo­ria is not in it for the long haul have been re­cent ros­ter moves geared for the present, not the fu­ture. While the Mar­lins are pro­jected to have a fran­chise-record player pay­roll in ex­cess of $100 mil­lion this sea­son, they have traded off many of their top prospects, cre­at­ing a mi­nor league farm sys­tem that is thin on bud­ding tal­ent and ranked as one of the worst in the ma­jors.

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