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New owner will bring hope, inherit potential

From the scenes at Marlins Park last night, it is clear that South Florida is passionate about baseball, and a new owner will only heighten the interest in the team.

T-Mobile Home Run Derby Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In case you were too wrapped-up in the excitement of the Home Run Derby last night, the Marlins were sold to Cuban-American Jorge Mas yesterday for $1.17 billion, or perhaps they weren’t, or maybe they were but the people involved want to keep it quiet until the sale becomes official.

Whatever the case, change is coming in Miami, and there is definitely the potential for the franchise to turn around in a hurry. A two-horse race appears to have emerged in the bidding for the franchise; Mas and his billions, and the legendary Yankee Derek Jeter and his hoard of investors. Both potential owners would immediately bring a lot to the Marlins.

With Mas, a local man who is a big part of the Cuban community, has the local appeal and will be able to connect with the area’s large Latin community, especially if he was to bring in a more culturally diverse front office, as has been speculated. Additionally, the businessman has deep pockets, and is more than willing to pump money into the roster.

With Derek Jeter, Miami would be getting one of the most revered and successful baseball minds in history. His link to the team on its own would attract at least some of the thousands of Yankees fans in the area (which were out in force last night to support Aaron Judge). He has been called a control freak during the bidding process by investors who have backed-out from working with him, but none of them knew anything about winning the World Series, and Jeter with his five rings just might.

Inevitably, there are downsides to both candidates. Mas, unless he surrounds himself with some bright baseball minds, would not be as effective in running the baseball operations department as Jeter, and Jeter’s group does not have as much money as Mas, which is a problem for a team deep into the red.

Either owner will lead to an increase in the number of tickets sold in the short-term, but they would both face a difficult task when it comes to the major and minor league rosters.

The Miami Marlins are a great team...on one side of the ball. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna are stars. J.T. Realmuto is well on his way to joining that trio, and Justin Bour and Dee Gordon are both dangerous in their own way every time they step into the batter’s box. Six of Miami’s eight position players would make an instant impact on a contending team, but the problem is with the pitching.

Aside from maybe Dan Straily this season, the Marlins do not have anyone on the major league roster who is consistently throwing the ball well, and the team’s 41-46 record at the break is a testament to just how good the hitters have been (or, conversely, just how bad the pitching has been considering how good the hitting has been). The farm system is also void of much talent, but actually keeping this year’s draft picks rather than trading them away at the deadline will help to remedy the problem.

So, what should the Marlins do to contend as soon as possible? That will be for the new ownership group to decide, but the fact that the current front office have been saying this week that Miami’s stars are not going anywhere is a good sign that the new owners will be keen on building, not rebuilding. With that being said, the team is in debt and is set to lose more money this year, so trading away the team’s stars and building properly from the ground up may be best in the long-run, although that would harm attendance and revenues.

Whether it is Jorge Mas or Derek Jeter who wins the bidding for the team, Marlins supporters will feel a sense of hope that the franchise is finally trending upwards. The franchise is in a difficult place with regards to talent and finances, so regardless of whether the new owners opt to chase three or four quality starting pitchers and go for it, or acquire a stellar crop of prospects for the future in return for the team’s current stars, their decision will have to be respected.

There is a lot of uncertainty with the sale of the team, but there is one thing for sure: it is almost time for all of South Florida to get excited about Marlins baseball again.