MLB

MLB reportedly wants bidders for Marlins to have cash up front

NEW YORK (AP) -- Major League Baseball wants the groups bidding for the Miami Marlins to show their cash up front, and thus far the group led by the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appears to be ahead.

A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the commissioner's office has told the parties that before the team signs a sale agreement a purchasing group must demonstrate it has enough cash to close the deal and to operate the team.

The Marlins have been negotiating with a group that includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, and a group led by businessman Tagg Romney, son of the former Republican nominee. MLB has told parties that based on submissions thus far, the Romney group has appeared to raise a higher percentage of the needed approvable equity, the person said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.

The Marlins hope to reach an agreement in the next few weeks and have an expectation a sale would close around the time of the All-Star Game, which will be in Miami on July 11.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, now 76, bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry, part of the Boston Red Sox ownership group that has celebrated three World Series titles.

The two groups are bidding to buy the team for approximately $1.3 billion, which would include the assumption of about $100 million in baseball-related debt, the person said. More than $200 million in other debt associated with the team would be paid by Loria as part of the closing, the person added.

Under baseball's debt-service rule, a deal in the range being discussed would require about $800 million in equity. Groups have to show additional money has been raised to operate the team.

The Marlins won the World Series in 2003 but have not been to the postseason since, the longest current drought in the NL. They were last in the National League in attendance 11 of the past 12 years despite a 2012 move to Marlins Park.

Bush has said Jeter, a 14-time All-Star, would run the team's baseball operations. Romney has not commented publicly on the bid by his group, which includes Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine.

"We have two very strong groups that we believe will have sufficient financial resources to complete the sale and run the team effectively," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement last week.

A sale requires approval of at least 75 percent of the major league clubs.